Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Chapter 10,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: 1846-1849 (2008), pp. 685-762 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 685, unnumbered:]

X

FORDHAM — PROVIDENCE

The Sarah Helen Whitman Interlude

Letters 276-302a: September 1848-January 1849

[page 687:]

Letter 276 — 1848, September 5 [CL-720] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

New-York — Sep. 5. 48.

Dear Madam —

Being engaged in making a collection of autographs of the most distinguished American authors, I am, of course, anxious to procure your own, and if you would so far honor me as to reply, however briefly, to this note, I would take it as a very especial favor.

Resy Yr mo. ob. st

Edward S. T. Grey.

Mrs Sarah Helen Whitman

Note: Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman (1803-1878) was one of the legion of literary ladies who kept the periodicals of the day well stocked with poetry, much of it of a distinctly sentimental bent. Poe’s campaign to win the heart and hand of this New England widow is one of the more curious episodes in his life. (See Poe’s letters to Mrs. Whitman, especially LTR-278, LTR-280, and LTR-283.) The pseudonym “Edward S. T. Grey” was one Poe adopted for privacy in non-literary matters (used again in LTR-332 to Mrs. Clemm). For the dozen pseudonyms assumed by Poe as disguise, as author, as role player, and for other varied purposes, see DP, pp. 215-218. For an explanation of the name “Grey” having been derived from his relations with Mrs. Osgood, and her tale of “Ida Grey” (mentioned in the postscript to LTR-291), and the suggestion that “S. T.” comes from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, see Pollin, “Poe as Edward S. T. Grey,” Ball State University Forum, 14:44-46; and Writings, 4:162-163, note to 3:210 (d). For Poe’s use of the pseudonym in the abbreviated form of “E. S. T. G.,” see Writings, 3:220.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The letter is postmarked New York, September 5, and directed to “Mrs Sarah Helen Whitman, / Providence, / R. I.” On the envelope, Mrs. Whitman wrote: “Sent by E. A. P. under an assumed name in order to ascertain if [I was] in Providence.” Though Poe made an effort to disguise his handwriting in the letter itself, that of the outside address is quite natural. This is Poe’s first known letter to Mrs. Whitman. For further discussion of the Poe-Whitman correspondence, see APXA-Whitman. [page 688:]

Letter 277 — 1848, September 20 [CL-721] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Charles F. Hoffman (New York, NY):

Dear Sir: —

In your paper of July 29, I find some comments on “Eureka,” a late book of my own; and I know you too well to suppose, for a moment, that you will refuse me the privilege of a few words in reply. I feel, even, that I might safely claim, from Mr. Hoffman, the right, which every author has, of replying to his critic tone for tone — that is to say, of answering your correspondent, flippancy by flippancy and sneer by sneer — but, in the first place, I do not wish to disgrace the “World;” and, in the second, I feel that I never should be done sneering, in the present instance, were I once to begin. Lamartine blames Voltaire for the use which he made of (ruse) misrepresentation, in his attacks on the priesthood; but our young students of Theology do not seem to be aware that in defence, or what they fancy to be defence, of Christianity, there is anything wrong in such gentlemanly peccadillos as the deliberate perversion of an author’s text — to say nothing of the minor indecora of reviewing a book without reading it and without having the faintest suspicion of what it is about.

You will understand that it is merely the misrepresentations of the critique in question to which I claim the privilege of reply: — the mere opinions of the writer can be of no consequence to me — and I should imagine of very little to himself — that is to say if he knows himself, personally, as well as I have the honor of knowing him. The first misrepresentation is contained in this sentence: — “This letter is a keen burlesque on the Aristotelian or Baconian methods of ascertaining Truth, both of which the writer ridicules and despises, and pours forth his rhapsodical ecstasies in a glorification of the third mode — the noble art of guessing.” What I really say is this: — That there is no absolute certainty either in the Aristotelian or Baconian process — that, for this reason, neither Philosophy is so profound as it fancies itself — and that neither has a right to sneer at that seemingly imaginative process called Intuition (by which the great Kepler attained his laws;) since “Intuition,” after all, “is but the [page 689:] conviction arising from those inductions or deductions of which the processes are so shadowy as to escape our consciousness, elude our reason or defy our capacity of expression.” The second misrepresentation runs thus: — “The developments of electricity and the formation of stars and suns, luminous and non-luminous, moons and planets, with their rings, &c., is deduced, very much according to the nebular theory of Laplace, from the principle propounded above.” Now the impression intended to be made here upon the reader’s mind, by the “Student of Theology,” is, evidently, that my theory may all be very well in its way, but that it is nothing but Laplace over again, with some modifications that he (the Student of Theology) cannot regard as at all important. I have only to say that no gentleman can accuse me of the disingenuousness here implied; inasmuch as, having proceeded with my theory up to that point at which Laplace’s theory meets it, I then give Laplace’s theory in full, with the expression of my firm conviction of its absolute truth at all points. The ground covered by the great French astronomer compares with that covered by my theory, as a bubble compares with the ocean on which it floats; nor has he the slightest allusion to the “principle propounded above,” the principle of Unity being the source of all things — the principle of Gravity being merely the Reaction of the Divine Act which irradiated all things from Unity. In fact, no point of my theory has been even so much as alluded to by Laplace. I have not considered it necessary, here, to speak of the astronomical knowledge displayed in the “stars and suns” of the Student of Theology, nor to hint that it would be better grammar to say that “development and formation” are, than that development and formation is. The third misrepresentation lies in a foot-note, where the critic says: — “Further than this, Mr. Poe’s claim that he can account for the existence of all organized beings — man included — merely from those principles on which the origin and present appearance of suns and worlds are explained, must be set down as mere bald assertion, without a particle of evidence. In other words we should term it arrant fudge.” The perversion at this point is involved in a wilful misapplication of the word “principles.” I say “wilful;” because, at page 63, I am particularly careful to distinguish between the principles proper, Attraction and Repulsion, and those [page 690:] merely resultant, sub-principles which control the universe in detail. To these sub-principles, swayed by the immediate spiritual influence of Deity, I leave, without examination, all that which the Student of Theology so roundly asserts I account for on the principles which account for the constitution of suns, &c.

In the third column of his “review” the critic says: — “He asserts that each soul is its own God — its own Creator.” What I do assert is, that “each soul is, in part, its own God — its own Creator.” Just below, the critic says: — “After all these contradictory propoundings concerning God we would remind him of what he lays down on page 28 — “Of this Godhead in itself he alone is not imbecile — he alone is not impious who propounds nothing. A man who thus conclusively convicts himself of imbecility and impiety needs no further refutation.” Now the sentence, as I wrote it, and as I find it printed on that very page which the critic refers to and which must have been lying before him while he quoted my words, runs thus: — “Of this Godhead, in itself, he alone is not imbecile, &c., who propounds nothing.” By the italics, as the critic well knew, I design to distinguish between the two possibilities — that of a knowledge of God through his works and that of a knowledge of Him in his essential nature. The Godhead, in itself, is distinguished from the Godhead observed in its effects. But our critic is zealous. Moreover, being a divine, he is honest — ingenuous. It is his duty to pervert my meaning by omitting my italics — just as, in the sentence previously quoted, it was his Christian duty to falsify my argument by leaving out the two words, “in part,” upon which turns the whole force — indeed the whole intelligibility of my proposition.

Were these “misrepresentations” (is that the name for them?) made for any less serious a purpose than that of branding my book as “impious” and myself as a “pantheist,” a “polytheist,” a Pagan, or a God knows what (and indeed I care very little so it be not a “Student of Theology,”) I would have permitted their dishonesty to pass unnoticed, through pure contempt for the boyishness — for the turn-down-shirt-collar-ness of their tone: — but, as it is, you will pardon me, Mr. Editor, that I have been compelled to expose a “critic” who, [page 691:] courageously preserving his own anonymosity [sic], takes advantage of my absence from the city to misrepresent, and thus villify me, by name.

Edgar A. Poe.

Fordham, September 20, 1848

Note: Charles Fenno Hoffman (1806-1884) edited the Literary World, a New York weekly, from May 1847-September 1848 (see the note to LTR-201). The review in question appeared in the issue for July 29, 1848 (The Poe Log, pp. 745 and 755). Hoffman had “praised Poe’s cosmographical lecture on hearing it, but was less friendly to Eureka when published” (American Magazines, 1:766-767). Poe identified the “Student of Theology” as John Henry Hopkins, Jr. (1820-1891), who was attending the General Theological Seminary in New York City at the time Eureka was printed, and had argued with Poe about what he saw as pantheistic elements in it. Hopkins seems subsequently to have exerted his influence in alienating Mrs. Shew’s affection for Poe (see LTR-265 and LTR-273, and notes). Mrs. Shew-Houghton verified Poe’s description of “turn down shirt collar” as being “so like the artistic habit of dress of Mr. Hopkins when he was a theological student” (Mrs. Houghton to Ingram, May 16, 1875, University of Virginia, Ingram Collection; reprinted in Miller, BPB, pp. 136-141). For a somewhat hypocritical criticism by Poe of the practice of attacking someone under the cloak of anonymity, see the entry on L. Osborn in Savoye, “A ‘Lost’ Roll of Marginalia,” EAP Review, 3:63-64. C. F. Hoffman was influential enough to enter Poe’s list twice in Such Friends, as nos. 93 and 248 (pp. 26-27).

The word “indecora” is a Poe creation (intentional, as the italics show) based on the plural of “decorum.” The word “sub-principles” shows Poe’s somewhat labored effort to be logical and specific in discussing scientific or philosophical concepts. Both “turn-down-shirt-collar-ness” and “anonymosity” are humorous, portmanteau coinages. None of these four Poe creations are included in the OED. For Poe’s consistent spelling error of “villify” see the note to LTR-194.

Source: text of the letter as quoted by Griswold in his “Memoir,” Works, 3:xxvii-xxix [1850]. Although the original MS is probably lost, and Griswold forged some of the letters in this source, the present letter appears to be genuine. [page 692:]

Letter 278 — 1848, October 1 [CL-723] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

Sunday Night — Oct. 1 — 48.

I have pressed your letter again and again to my lips, sweetest Helen — bathing it in tears of joy, or of a “divine despair”. But I — who so lately, in your presence, vaunted the “power of words” — of what avail are mere words to me now? Could I believe in the efficiency of prayers to the God of Heaven, I would indeed kneel — humbly kneel — at this the most earnest epoch of my life — kneel in entreaty for words — but for words that should disclose to you — that might enable me to lay bare to you my whole heart. All thoughts — all passions seem now merged in that one consuming desire — the mere wish to make you comprehend — to make you see that for which there is no human voice — the unutterable fervor of my love for you: — for so well do I know your poet-nature, oh Helen, Helen! that I feel sure if you could but look down now into the depths of my soul with your pure spiritual eyes you could not refuse to speak to me what, alas! you still resolutely have unspoken — you would love me if only for the greatness of my love. Is it not something in this cold, dreary world, to be loved? — Oh, if I could but burn into your spirit the deep — the true meaning which I attach to those three syllables underlined! — but, alas: the effort is all in vain and “I live and die unheard”.

When I spoke to you of what I felt, saying that I loved now for the first time, I did not hope you would believe or even understand me; nor can I hope to convince you now — but if, throughout some long, dark summer night, I could but have held you close, close to my heart and whispered to you the strange secrets of its passionate history, then indeed you would have seen that I have been far from attempting to deceive you in this respect. I could have shown you that it was not and could never have been in the power of any other than yourself to move me as I am now moved — to oppress me with this ineffable [page 2] emotion — to surround and bathe me in this electric light, illumining and enkindling my whole nature — filling my soul with glory, with wonder, and with awe. During our walk in the cemetery I said to you, [page 693:] while the bitter, bitter tears sprang into my eyes — “Helen, I love now — now — for the first and only time.” I said this, I repeat, in no hope that you could believe me, but because I could not help feeling how unequal were the heart-riches we might offer each to each: — I, for the first time, giving my all at once, and forever, even while the words of your poem were yet ringing in my ears: —

Oh then, beloved, I think on thee

And on that life so strangely fair

Ere yet one cloud of Memory

Had gathered in Hope’s golden air.

I think on thee and thy lone grave

On the green hill-side far away —

I see the wilding flowers that wave

Around thee as the night-winds sway;

And still, though only clouds remain

On Life’s horizon, cold and drear,

The dream of Youth returns again

With the sweet promise of the year.

Ah Helen, these lines are indeed beautiful, beautiful — but their very beauty was cruelty to me. Why — why did you show them to me? There seemed, too, so very especial a purpose in what you did.

I have already told you that some few casual words spoken of you — [not very kindly] — by Miss Lynch, were the first in which I had ever heard your name mentioned. She described you, in some [m]easure, personally. She alluded [page 3] to what she called your “eccentricities” and hinted at your sorrows. Her description of the former strangely arrested — her [half sneers at] the latter enchained and riveted, my attention. She had referred to thoughts, sentiments, traits, moods which I knew to be my own, but which, until that moment, I had believed to be my own solely — unshared by any human being. A profound sympathy took immediate possession of my soul. I cannot better explain to you what I felt than by saying that your unknown heart seemed to pass into my bosom — there to dwell forever — while mine, I thought, was translated into your own. From [page 694:] that hour I loved you. Yes, I now feel that it was then — on that evening of sweet dreams — that the very first dawn of human love burst upon the icy Night of my spirit. Since that period I have never seen nor heard your name without a shiver half of delight, half of anxiety. The impression left, however, upon my mind, by Miss Lynch ([wh]ether through my own fault or her design I know not) was that you were a wife now and a most happy one; — and it is only within the last few months that I have been undeceived in this respect. For this reason I shunned your presence and even the city in which you lived. — You may remember that once, when I passed through Providence with Mrs Osgood, I positively refused to accompany her to your house, and even provoked her into a quarrel by the obstinacy and seeming unreasonableness of my refusal. I dared neither go nor say why I could not. I dared not speak of you — much less see you. For years your name never passed my lips, while my soul drank in, with a delirious thirst, all that was uttered in my presence respecting you. The merest whisper that concerned you awoke in me a shuddering sixth sense, vaguely compounded of fear, ecstatic happiness, and a wild, inexplicable [page 4] sentiment that resembled nothing so nearly as the consciousness of guilt. — Judge, then, with what wondering, unbelieving joy I received in your well-known MS., the Valentine which first gave me to see that you knew me to exist. The idea of what men call Fate lost then for the first time, in my eyes, its character of futility. I felt that nothing hereafter was to be doubted, and lost myself, for many weeks, in one continuous, delicious dream, where all was a vivid yet indistinct bliss. — Immediately after reading the Valentine, I wished to contrive some mode of acknowledging — without wounding you by seeming directly to acknowledge — my sense — oh, my keen — my profound — my exulting — my ecstatic sense of the honor you had conferred on me. To accomplish, as I wished it, precisely what I wished, seemed impossible, however; and I was on the point of abandoning the idea, when my eyes fell upon a volume of my own poems; and then the lines I had written, in my passionate boyhood, to the first, purely ideal love of my soul — to the Helen Stannard [sic] of whom I told you — flashed upon my recollection. I turned to them. They expressed all — all that I would have said to [page 695:] you — so fully — so accurately and so exclusively, that a thrill of intense superstition ran at once throughout my frame. Read the verses and then take into consideration the peculiar need I had, at the moment, for just so seemingly unattainable a mode of communicating with you as they afforded. Think of the absolute appositeness with which they fulfilled that need — expressing not only all that I would have said of your person, but all that of which I most wished to assure you, in the lines commencing “On desperate seas long wont to roam.” Think, too, of the rare agreement of name — Helen and not the far more usual Ellen [—] [page 5] think of all these coincidences, and you will no longer wonder that, to one accustomed as I am to the Calculus of Probabilities, they wore an air of positive miracle. There was but one difficulty. — I did not wish to copy the lines in my own MS — nor did I wish you to trace them to my volume of poems. I hoped to leave at least something of doubt on your mind as to how, why, and especially whence they came. And now, when, on accidentally turning the leaf, I found even this difficulty obviated, by the poem happening to be the last in the book, thus having no letter-press on its reverse — I yielded at once to an overwhelming sense of Fatality. From that hour I have never been able to shake from my soul the belief that my Destiny, for good or for evil, either here or hereafter, is in some measure interwoven with your own. — Of course, I did not expect on your part any acknowledgment of the printed lines “To Helen”; and yet, without confessing it even to myself, I experienced an undefinable sorrow in your silence. At length, when I thought you had time fully to forget me (if indeed you had ever really remembered) I sent you the anonymous lines in MS. I wrote them, first, through a pining, burning desire to communicate with you in some way — even if you remained in ignorance of your correspondent. The mere thought that your dear fingers would press — your sweet eyes dwell upon characters which I had penned — characters which had welled out upon the paper from the depths of so devout a love — filled my soul with a rapture which seemed then all sufficient for my human nature. It then appeared to me that merely this one thought involved so much of bliss that here on Earth I could have no right ever to repine — [page 6] no room for discontent. — If ever, then, I dared to picture for [page 696:] myself a richer happiness, it was always connected with your image in Heaven. But there was yet another idea which impelled me to send you those lines: — I said to myself — The sentiment — the holy passion which glows within my spirit for her, is of Heaven, heavenly, and has no taint of the Earth. Thus there must lie, in the recesses of her own pure bosom, at least the germ of a reciprocal love; and if this be indeed so, she will need no earthly clew — she will indistinctly feel who is her correspondent. — In this case, then, I may hope for some faint token, at least, giving me to understand that the source of the poem is known and its sentiment comprehended even if disapproved. Oh God! how long — how long I waited in vain — hoping against Hope — until at length I became possessed with a spirit far sterner — far more reckless than Despair. — I explained to you — but without detailing the vital influence they wrought upon my fortune — those singular additional yet seemingly trivial fatalities by which you happened to address your lines to Fordham in place of New-York — by which my aunt happened to get notice of their being in the West-Farms Post Office — and by which it happened that, of all my set of the “Home Journal”, I failed in receiving only that individual number which contained your published verses; but I have not yet told you that your MS. lines reached me in Richmond on the very day in which I was about to depart on a tour and an enterprize which would have changed my very nature — fearfully altered my very [page 7] soul — steeped me in a stern, cold and debasing, although brilliant and gigantic ambition — and borne me “far, far away” and forever, from you, sweet, sweet Helen, and from this divine dream of your Love.

And now, in the most simple words at my command, let me paint to you the impression made upon me by your personal presence. — As you entered the room, pale, timid, hesitating, and evidently oppressed at heart; as your eyes rested appealingly, for one brief moment, upon mine, I felt, for the first time in my life, and tremblingly acknowledged, the existence of spiritual influences altogether out of the reach of the reason. I saw that you were Helenmy Helen — the Helen of a thousand dreams — she whose visionary lips had so often lingered upon my own in the divine trance of passion — she whom the great Giver of all Good had prëordained to be mine — mine only — [page 697:] if not now, alas! then at least hereafter and forever, in the Heavens. — You spoke falteringly and seemed scarcely conscious of what you said. I heard no words — only the soft voice, more familiar to me than my own, and more melodious than the songs of the angels. Your hand rested within mine, and my whole soul shook with a tremulous ecstasy. And then but for very shame — but for the fear of grieving or oppressing you — I would have fallen at your feet in as pure — in as real a worship as was ever offered to Idol or to God. And when, afterwards, on those two successive evenings of all-Heavenly delight, you passed to and fro about the room — now sitting by my side, now far away, now standing with your hand resting on the back of my chair, while the praeternatural thrill of your touch vibrated even through the senseless wood into my heart — while you [page 8] moved thus restlessly about the room — as if a deep Sorrow or a more profound Joy haunted your bosom — my brain reeled beneath the intoxicating spell of your presence, and it was with no merely human senses that I either saw or heard you. It was my soul only that distinguished you there. I grew faint with the luxury of your voice and blind with the voluptuous lustre of your eyes.

Let me quote to you a passage from your letter: — “You will, perhaps, attempt to convince me that my person is agreeable to you — that my countenance interests you: — but in this respect I am so variable that I should inevitably disappoint you if you hoped to find in me to-morrow the same aspect which won you to-day. And, again, although my reverence for your intellect and my admiration of your genius make me feel like a child in your presence, you are not, perhaps, aware that I am many years older than yourself. I fear you do not know it, and that if you had known it you would not have felt for me as you do.” — To all this what shall I — what can I say — except that the heavenly candor with which you speak oppresses my heart with so rich a burden of love that my eyes overflow with sweet tears. You are mistaken, Helen, very far mistaken about this matter of age. I am older than you; and if illness and sorrow have made you seem older than you are — is not all this the best of reason for my loving you the more? Cannot my patient cares — my watchful, earnest attention — cannot the magic which lies in such devotion as I feel for [page 698:] you, win [page 9] back for you much — oh, very much of the freshness of your youth? But grant that what you urge were even true. Do you not feel in your inmost heart of hearts that the “soul-love” of which the world speaks so often and so idly is, in this instance at least, but the veriest, the most absolute of realities? Do you not — I ask it of your reason, darling, not less than of your heart — do you not perceive that it is my diviner nature — my spiritual being — which burns and pants to commingle with your own? Has the soul age, Helen? Can Immortality regard Time? Can that which began never and shall never end, consider a few wretched years of its incarnate life? Ah, I could weep — I could almost be angry with you for the unwarranted wrong you offer to the purity — to the sacred reality of my affection. — And how am I to answer what you say of your personal appearance? Have I not seen you, Helen? Have I not heard the more than melody of your voice? Has not my heart ceased to throb beneath the magic of your smile? Have I not held your hand in mine and looked steadily into your soul through the crystal Heaven of your eyes? Have I not done all these things? — or do I dream? — or am I mad? Were you indeed all that your fancy, enfeebled and perverted by illness, tempts you to suppose that you are, still, life of my life! I would but love you — but worship you the more: — it would be so glorious a happiness to be able to prove to you what I feel! But as it is, what can I — what am I to say? Who ever spoke of you without emotion — without praise? Who ever saw you and did not love?

[page 10] But now a deadly terror oppresses me; for I too clearly see that these objections — so groundless — so futile when urged to one whose nature must be so well known to you as mine is — can scarcely be meant earnestly; and I tremble lest they but serve to mask others, more real, and which you hesitate — perhaps in pity — to confide to me. Alas! I too distinctly perceive, also, that in no instance you have ever permitted yourself to say that you love me. You are aware, sweet Helen, that on my part there are insuperable reasons forbidding me to urge upon you my love. Were I not poor — had not my late errors and reckless excesses justly lowered me in the esteem of the good — were I wealthy, or could I offer you worldly honors — ah then — then — how proud would I be to persevere — to sue — to [page 699:] plead — to kneel — to pray — to beseech you for your love — in the deepest humility — at your feet — at your feet, Helen, and with floods of passionate tears.

And now let me copy here one other passage from your letter: — “I find that I cannot now tell you all that I promised. I can only say to you [that had I youth and health and beauty, I would live for you and die with you. Now, were I to allow myself to love you, I could only enjoy a bright, brief hour of rapture and die — perhaps [***********].” — The last five words have been [***************] Ah, beloved, beloved Helen the darling of my heart — my first and my real love] ! — may God forever shield you from the agony which these your words occasion me! [How selfish — how despicably selfish seems [page 11] now all — all that I have written! Have I not, indeed, been demanding at your hands a love which might endanger your life?] You will never, never know — you can never picture to yourself the hopeless, rayless despair with which I now trace these words. Alas Helen! my soul! — what is it that I have been saying to you? — to what madness have I been urging you? — I who am nothing to you — you who have a dear mother and sister to be blessed by your life and love. But ah, darling! if I seem selfish, yet believe that I truly, truly love you, and that it is the most spiritual of love that I speak, even if I speak it from the depths of the most passionate of hearts. Think — oh, think for me, Helen, and for yourself! Is there no hope? — is there none? May not this terrible [disease] be conquered? Frequently it has been overcome. And more frequently are we deceived in respect to its actual existence. Long-continued nervous disorder — especially when exasperated by ether or [excision] — will give rise to all the symptoms of heart-dis[ease an]d so deceive the most skillful physicians — as even in [my o]wn case they were deceived. But admit that this fearful evil has indeed assailed you. Do you not all the more really need the devotionate care which only one who loves you as I do, could or would bestow? On my bosom could I not still the throbbings of your own? Do not mistake me, Helen! Look, with your searching — your seraphic eyes, into the soul of my soul, and see if you can discover there one taint of an ignoble nature! At your feet — if you so willed it [page 700:] — I would cast from me, forever, all merely human desire, and clothe myself in the glory of a pure, calm, and unexacting affection. I would [page 12] comfort you — soothe you — tranquillize you. My love — my faith — should instil into your bosom a praeternatural calm. You would rest from care — from all worldly agitation. You would get better, and finally well. And if not, Helen, — if not — if you died — then at least would I clasp your dear hand in death, and willingly — oh, joyfullyjoyfullyjoyfully — go down with you into the night of the Grave.

Write soon — soon — oh, soon! — but not much. Do not weary or agitate yourself for my sake. Say to me those coveted words which would turn Earth into Heaven. If Hope is forbidden, I will not murmur if you comfort me with Love. — The papers of which you [speak] I will procure and forward immediately. They will cost me nothing, dear Helen, an[d] I therefore re-enclose you what you so thoughtfully s[ent.] Think that, in doing so, my lips are pressed ferv[ently] and lingeringly upon your own. And now, in closing this long, long letter, let me speak last of that which lies nearest my heart — of that precious gift which I would not exchange for the surest hope of Paradise. It seems to me too sacred that I should even whisper to you, the dear giver, what it is. My soul, this night, shall come to you in dreams and speak to you those fervid thanks which my pen is all powerless to utter.

Edgar

P. S. Tuesday Morning. — I beg you to believe, dear Helen, that I replied to your letter immediately upon its receipt; but a most unusual storm, up to this moment, precludes all access to the City.

Note: The extravagance in which Poe indulges here is typical of his correspondence with Mrs. Whitman. Indeed, Mrs. S. A. T. Weiss commented that rather than a “genuine love-inspired epistle” it was “an elaborate work of art intended to please the lady” (Weiss, “Reminiscences of EAP,” the Independent, 57:445). Poe’s comment about “electric light, illuminating and enkindling my whole nature” is surely an intentional invocation of his own “To Helen,” where one might well note the presence of “electric fire” from “Helen’s eyes [which] ‘illumine and [page 701:] enkindle’ and [will save him] ‘by their bright light’” (TOM [Poems], 1:446). Such an allusion reveals the consanguinity of the letter to the manuscript poem that he first sent to Mrs. Whitman on June 1, 1848, and later published in the Union Magazine of November 1848. Although TOM thinks this phrase means “lightning” and objects to any mundane significance, Poe may partially be revealing his interest in the considerable fanfare about the developing “electric lamp” and “electric light,” then being widely publicized by Sir Humphry Davy and his assistant Michael Faraday. The OED cites the term as first used in an 1843 Mechanic’s Magazine instance, with the next being in 1849 (in Orr’s Circle of the Sciences). Poe’s often expressed interest in advancing technology kept him aware of such developments (see his tale of “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade,” based entirely thereon). For more information about Anne C. Lynch, the New York poetess and Blue Stocking, see the notes to LTR-224. Her February 1848 Valentine party was given for many literary and socially-noted persons. Among the invited guests was Mrs. S. H. Whitman, who did not show up in person but sent a valentine written to Poe. Since Poe had not been invited, he did not hear the poem, as Mrs. Whitman had originally intended. Instead, Mrs. Whitman arranged for it to be published in the Home Journal (March 18, 1848). For Poe’s reference to the valentine, see Quinn, pp. 572-573. Poe had planned to tour the South to get subscriptions for his proposed Stylus.

In keeping with the highly cultured nature of his correspondent, Poe’s letter is unusually ripe with literary quotations and allusions. No doubt Poe fully expected Mrs. Whitman to recognize these, but modern readers are to be forgiven if a little help is necessary. The phrase “divine despair” is from “Song,” in The Princess by Tennyson, Poe’s “noblest poet”: “Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, / Tears from the depth of some divine despair.” The poem is cited in full near the end of “The Poetic Principle.” In prose and in poetry, Poe had repeatedly used the phrase “the power of words,” borrowed from Pope’s Imitations of Horace: Epistle, 6: 48. (See the note to “Marginalia” M-150 in Writings, 2:258 and 260; for Poe’s many significant uses in his works, see the note to the title of Poe’s “prose-poem,” “The Power of Words” in TOM [T&S], 3:1216. Poe’s quotation of “I live and die unheard” is from Byron’s “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” (canto III, stanza 97): “Could I embody and unbosom now / That which is most within me, could I wreak / My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw / Soul, heart, mind, passions, [page 702:] feelings, strong or weak, / All that I would have sought, and all I seek, / Bear, now, feel, and yet breathe into one word, / And that one word were Lightning, I would speak; / But as it is, I live and die unheard, / With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.” Poe appeals even more directly to Mrs. Whitman by quoting from her own poem: “Oh then, beloved ... sweet promise of the year.” These are the last three stanzas of “A Song of Spring” (later reprinted under the first line: “In April’s Dim and Showery Night”), published in the November 1848 issue of the Columbian Magazine and reprinted in her collected works Hours of Life, and other Poems (Providence: G. H. Whitney, 1853), pp. 118-119 and Poems (1879), pp. 34-35. Poe seems to be protesting against the morbid concept of the beloved one as lying dead far away. Whitman’s 1874 notes to John Ingram on the poem and Poe’s remarks on it here, however, indicate her showing the verses (probably in a proof sheet) to him simply to check on the proposed alteration of a line by John Inman, editor of the Columbian Magazine. Poe thought the change worthless, although he himself in this letter introduced capitals for “memory ... life’s ... and youth.” Although it is “characters” and not “tears” that “well out” in the present letter, the Tennysonian recall will soon find its fulfillment in the “Despair” below. The agreement of the names for Mrs. Stanard and Helen, justifies the “thrill of intense superstition” (page 4 of the present letter) and the “positive miracle” of such a coincidence. Poe will present more of these unlikely happenings (italicized below) to persuade the reluctant Helen to say that she loves and will marry him. Indeed, for several paragraphs more he will endeavor to convince the spiritualist Helen that they are really soul-mates, predestined to be together, not ineffectively apart. Poe’s “Helen of a thousand dreams “ is obviously suggested by Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, whose Helen “launch’d a thousand ships” plus, perhaps, Keats’ ”Ode on a Grecian Urn”: “Was it a vision, or a waking dream?” A number of sentences on page 3 of the letter reflect Poe’s reading in the works of Shelley, a one-volume complete Poetical Works (New York: Redfield, 1845), edited by Poe’s one-time friend, George G. Foster. (For Poe’s relationship with this colorful writer see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 765-766.) Interestingly, Foster inserted a footnote into the Preface (p. 12) stating that Poe wished to change the end of a line in “Indian Serenade” from “who knows how?” to “God knows how,” claiming that it was originally thus. Poe reviewed the book in the BJ (see Writings, 3:349, with commentary on 4:258). Poe’s “heart of hearts” is in Shelley’s “Epipsychidion” (l. 385), and “Love’s Philosophy” lends ideas and language to Poe’s love plaint here. [page 703:]

Two minor errors may catch the eye of the attentive reader. Where Poe refers to “efficiency of prayers,” he probably meant “efficacy of prayers.” More surprising, perhaps, is Poe’s spelling of “Stannard” for the name of the adored mother, Jane Stith Stanard, of his close friend Robert. He had frequently visited her “early” gravestone (The Poe Log, pp. 57-59). He conjoined her surname, again misspelled, with Helen Whitman’s on the page featuring “Morella” in one of the BJ volumes that he gave Mrs. Whitman in Providence (TOM [Poems], 1:331).

Several of Poe’s word coinages in the present letter are also worthy of special attention. The Poe invented combination of “heart-riches” (on page 2 of the letter) has an echo in “so rich a burden of love” (on page 8 of the letter). Taken with the first paragraph on page 10, in which Poe laments his lack of wealth, one may sense an unsuppressed subtext in the present letter about Helen’s substantial financial resources. “The world” has not yet entered “soul-love” into the OED or other unabridged dictionaries, or into quotation lists or concordances, even of Shelley’s works. Note Poe’s other compounds with “soul.” The nearest instance is a 1690 “man is a soul-loving creature.” See also the Shelleyan phrase “life of my life” on the fifth line from the bottom and more fully glossed in LTR-285. (See LTR-285 also for a possible source for the phrase “soul of my soul,” and similar tropes in the present letter.) The word “prëordained” varies from Poe’s usual, and idiosyncratic, use of a dieresis over the second of two adjacent vowels (see Writings, 2:xxxvii-xl). Poe’s new compound “all-Heavenly” has never entered the OED. The word “rayless” is the familiar root of Poe’s earlier coinage of “raylessness” in the 1844 “Premature Burial.” The end of this passage and the melodramatic situation envisioned here echo Agathos’ statement in the 1845 “Power of Words,” (TOM [T&S], 3:1215, lowest paragraph). For another source for “The Power of Words,” see Pollin, “Alexander Pope and His Works in the Writings of EAP,” EAP Review, 4:56-57, 59, and 70. The word “devotionate” is given in the OED for only one instance (of 1864); never elsewhere was it used by Poe. See his “devotional” used on page 7 of LTR-280. In view of Mrs. Whitman’s frail health and her age being greater than his own, Poe cleverly thinks of this as his trump card.

Source: original MS (12 pp.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. Dr. John G. Varner succeeded in piecing together three original MS fragments in the Lilly Collection that proved to be the final, or sixth, leaf of the original letter [page 704:] (pages 11 and 12). Mr. Lilly and Dr. Varner then subjected to powerful electric lights and infrared photography those passages in the letter which had been heavily scratched out by Mrs. Whitman. The resulting restorations of the original text resulting from these examinations, with a few additional ones worked out by Ostrom, have been indicated in the present printing of the text by brackets. Some portions of the letter are beyond restoration. The present MS carries neither postmark nor address, but there can be no question to whom it was sent. In the MS, the word “ineffable” is broken across pages 1 and 2 as “in-effable,” although lacking the hyphen. In the left margin of page 1 of the MS is written, presumably by Mrs. Whitman: “Edgar Allan Poe to Sarah Helen Whitman / Fordham Oct. 1. 1848.” In the left margin of page 2 Mrs. Whitman wrote opposite the poem: “I simply showed him the lines that I might ask his opinion of a verse which the publisher wished me to alter.” In the second sentence of page 3, she scratched out the restored reading, “half sneers at,” and above wrote: “allusions to.” In the right margin of page 3, opposite the words “I passed through Providence with Mrs Osgood,” she identified the year for this trip as “1845.” In the left margin of page 4, opposite the reference to the valentine, she wrote: “Feb 1848.” In the lower left margin of page 6, appears, “Last lines or stanzas,” the exact allusion being unknown. On page 10, the editorial asterisks indicate the approximate number of letters in illegible words. Mrs. Whitman deleted extensively in transcribing this letter for J. H. Ingram. Poe is answering Mrs. Whitman’s letter of September 27-29 (?), 1848 (CL-722), her first to him, according to his letter of October 18. (See also Mrs. Whitman’s letter to Ingram, March 23, 1874, Ingram Collection, University of Virginia, in which she admits that the present letter is an answer to one from her in September.)

Letter 278a — 1848, October 18 [CL-725a] Poe (New York, NY) to Eli Bowen (Pottsville, PA):

New-York — Octo. 18 — 48

My Dear Sir,

About three weeks ago I wrote you quite a long letter, enclosing a MS copy of “The Raven” and making you a proposition in regard to the establishment of a Magazine — but have received no reply. [page 705:]

In addition to what I then said I have now to say that I am willing to accept your offer about the Correspondence, and will commence whenever you think proper — provided you decline the tour &c as I suggested. Please write & oblige

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe.

Eli Bowen Esqr

Note: Eli Bowen (1824-1868) was the co-publisher of the Columbia Spy, along with Jacob Gossler. In 1844 Poe contributed a series of chatty news articles to this periodical. (See Spannuth and TOM, Doings of Gotham for the full text of the set of seven “letters” Poe sent to the publishers, dated May 14 - June 25, 1844). In the present letter, Poe is not only pursuing his dream of establishing his own magazine but is also offering to write for the Miner’s Journal of Pottsville, PA, with which Bowen was associated in 1848 (see TOM, “Poe Letter about ‘The Raven,’ ” AN&Q, p. 67). Apparently nothing came of either suggestion. See also TOM’s footnote to the introductory comments for “A Reviewer Reviewed” ([T&S], 3:1378-1388), Poe’s long and almost completed MS under the pseudonym of “Walter G. Bowen.” (The beautiful MS for Poe’s article is now in the New York Public Library, Berg Collection.) TOM mentions the present letter, as well as that of 1844, implying a causative factor in the name that Poe intended to use for sending it to Graham’s. The MS of “The Raven” which Poe sent with the prior letter currently survives in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. Poe wrote the poem out using typical brown ink, now considerably faded, on the front of four sheets of buff paper, the final page bearing Poe’s signature and the note: “Inscribed to Dr. S. A. Whittaker [sic] of Phœnixville.” Bowen transmitted the MS to Whitaker on September 25, 1848. His letter of that date (also in the Gimbel Collection) is quoted in The Poe Log (pp. 757-758). (Both Poe and Bowen spell Whittaker with two “t”s, but D. Thomas, in Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 939-940, intentionally gives only one.) The Poe Log (p. 761) suggests that the “tour” is actually Poe’s tale “Landor’s Cottage.”

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. The MS is sealed in an open-faced frame. On the verso of the leaf appears the address: “Eli Bowen Esqr. / Pottsville / Pa.”; and in the lower left corner “EAP.” The postal cancellation shows: “New-York / 19 / Oct / 5 cts.” The present letter suggests another exchange of letters: Bowen to Poe, before September 25 (CL-721a) and Poe to Bowen, ca. October 1, 1848 (CL-722b). No reply to Poe’s letter is known. [page 706:]

Letter 279 — 1848, October 18 [CL-726] Poe (New York, NY) to Thomas L. Dunnell (Providence, RI):

New York October 18, 1848

Dear Sir,

I accept with pleasure your very flattering invitation to lecture in Providence, and will be at the Earl-House on the 13th of December.

Respectfully Yr. Ob. St.

Edgar A. Poe

Note: Thomas Lyman Dunnell (1816-1895) was a businessman, and a founding member of the Franklin Lyceum. He wrote to Poe again ca. November 23 (CL-744), apparently asking him to move up the date of the lecture from December 13th to the 6th, and Poe answered on November 27 (LTR-291a), expressing his strong preference for adhering to the original schedule. Ultimately, the lecture had to be postponed, and was finally delivered on the evening of December 20, at the Earl House, in Providence, RI. The Earl House appears as the “Earl’s Hotel” in Poe’s “Von Kempelen and His Discovery” (in the April 14, 1849 Flag of Our Union). For a picture of the Earl House, see Phillips, 2:1393. For a reading of Poe’s tale as having biographical significance in the context of his seeking the hand of Mrs. Whitman, see DP, chapter 10, especially pp. 186-189. See also TOM [T&S], 3:1355-1357, and 3:1367 n. 17.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the collection of Mrs. S. J. Tane. The letter is addressed on the verso to T. L. Dunnell, Esq., Providence, RI. Poe is answering Dunnell’s letter of before October 18 (CL-725).

Letter 280 — 1848, October 18 [CL-727] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

In pressing my last letter between your dear hands, there passed into your spirit a sense of the Love that glowed within those pages: — you say this, and I feel that indeed it must have been so: — but, in receiving the paper upon which your eyes now rest, did no shadow steal over you from the Sorrow within? — Oh God! how I now curse [page 707:] the impotence of the pen — the inexorable distance between us! I am pining to speak to you, Helen, — to you in person — to be near you while I speak — gently to press your hand in mine — to look into your soul through your eyes — and thus to be sure that my voice passes into your heart. Only thus could I hope to make you understand what I feel; and even thus I should not hope to make you do so; for it is only Love, which can comprehend Love — and alas! you do not love me. — Bear with me! have patience with me! — for indeed my heart is broken; and, let me struggle as I will, I cannot write to you the calm, cold language of a world which I loathe — of a world in which I have no interest — of a world which is not mine. I repeat to you that my heart is broken — that I have no farther object in life — that I have absolutely no wish but to die. These are hackneyed phrases; but they will not now impress you as such — for you must and do know the passionate agony with which I write them. “You do not love me”: — in this brief sentence lies all I can conceive of despair. I have no resource — no hope: — Pride itself fails me now. You do not love me; or you could not have imposed upon me the torture of eight days’ silence — of eight days’ terrible suspense. You do not love me — or, responding [page 2] to my prayers, you would have cried to me — “Edgar, I do.” Ah, Helen, the emotion which now consumes me teaches me too well the nature of the impulses of Love! Of what avail to me, in my deadly grief, are your enthusiastic words of mere admiration? Alas; — alas! — I have been loved, and a relentless Memory contrasts what you say with the unheeded, unvalued language of others. — But ah, — again, and most especially — you do not love me, or you would have felt too thorough a sympathy with the sensitiveness of my nature, to have so wounded me as you have done with this terrible passage of your letter: — “How often I have heard men and even women say of you — ‘He has great intellectual power, but no principle — no moral sense.’ ” Is it possible that such expressions as these could have been repeated to me — to me — by one whom I loved — ah, whom I love — by one at whose feet I knelt — I still kneel — in deeper worship than ever man offered to God? — And you proceed to ask me why such opinions exist. You will feel remorse for the question, Helen, when I say to you that, until the [page 708:] moment when those horrible words first met my eye, I would not have believed it possible that any such opinions could have existed at all: — but that they do exist breaks my heart in separating us forever. I love you too truly ever to have offered you my hand — ever to have sought your love — had I known my name to be so stained as your expressions imply. — Oh God! what shall I say to you Helen, dear Helen? — let me call you now by that sweet name, if I may never so call you again. — It is altogether in vain that I tax my Memory or my Conscience. There is no oath which seems [page 3] to me so sacred as that sworn by the all-divine love I bear you. — By this love, then, and by the God who reigns in Heaven, I swear to you that my soul is incapable of dishonor — that, with the exception of occasional follies and excesses which I bitterly lament, but to which I have been driven by intolerable sorrow, and which are hourly committed by others without attracting any notice whatever — I can call to mind no act of my life which would bring a blush to my cheek — or to yours. If I have erred at all, in this regard, it has been on the side of what the world would call a Quixotic sense of the honorable — of the chivalrous. The indulgence of this sense has been the true voluptuousness of my life. It was for this species of luxury that, in early youth, I deliberately threw away from me a large fortune, rather than endure a trivial wrong. It was for this that, at a later period, I did violence to my own heart, and married, for another’s happiness, where I knew that no possibility of my own existed. — Ah, how profound is my love for you, since it forces me into these egotisms for which you will inevitably despise me! Nevertheless, I must now speak to you the truth or nothing. It was in mere indulgence, then, of the sense to which I refer, that, at one dark epoch of my late life, for the sake of one who, deceiving and betraying, still loved me much, I sacrificed what seemed in the eyes of men my honor, rather than abandon what was honor in hers and in my own. — But, alas! for nearly three years I have been ill, poor, living out of the world; and thus, as I now painfully see, have afforded opportunity to my enemies — and especially to one, the most malignant and pertinacious of all fiends — [a woman whose loathsome love I could do nothing but repel with scorn —] [page 4] to slander me, in private society, without my [page 709:] knowledge and thus with impunity. Although much, however, may (and I now see must) have been said to my discredit, during my retirement, those few who, knowing me well, have been steadfastly my friends, permitted nothing to reach my ears — unless in one instance, where the malignity of the accuser hurried her beyond her usual caution, and thus the accusation was of such character that I could appeal to a court of justice for redress. The tools employed in this instance were Mr Hiram Fuller and Mr T. D. English. I replied to the charge fully, in a public newspaper — afterwards suing the “Mirror” (in which the scandal appeared) obtaining a verdict and recovering such an amount of damages as, for the time, completely to break up that journal. — And you ask me why men so misjudge me — why I have enemies. If your knowledge of my character and of my career does not afford you an answer to the query, at least it does not become me to suggest the answer. Let it suffice that I have had the audacity to remain poor that I might preserve my independence — that, nevertheless, in letters, to a certain extent and in certain regards, I have been “successful” — that I have been a critic — and unscrupulously honest and no doubt in many cases a bitter one — that I have uniformly attacked — where I attacked at all — those who stood highest in power and influence — and that, whether in literature or in society, I have seldom refrained from expressing, either directly or indirectly, the pure contempt with which the pretensions of ignorance, arrogance, or imbecility inspire me. — And you who know all this — you ask me why [page 5] I have enemies. Ah, Helen, I have a hundred friends for every individual enemy — but has it never occurred to you that you do not live among my friends? Miss Lynch, Miss Fuller, Miss Blackwell, Mrs Ellet — neither these nor any within their influence, are my friends. Had you read my criticisms generally, you would see, too, how and why it is that the Channings — the Emerson and Hudson coterie — the Longfellow clique, one and all — the cabal of the “N. American Review” — you would see why all these, whom you know best, know me least and are my enemies. Do you not remember with how deep a sigh I said to you in Providence — “My heart is heavy, Helen, for I see that your friends are not my own.”? — But the cruel sentence in your letter would not — could not [page 710:] so deeply have wounded me, had my soul been first strengthened by those assurances of your love which I so wildly — so vainly — and, I now feel, so presumptuously entreated. That our souls are one, every line which you have ever written asserts — but our hearts do not beat in unison. Tell me, darling! to your heart has any angel ever whispered that the very noblest lines in all human poetry are these — hackneyed though they be?

I know not — I ask not if guilt’s in thy heart: —

I but know that I love thee whatever thou art.

When I first read your letter I could do nothing but shed tears, while I repeated, again and again, those glorious, those all-comprehensive verses, till I could scarcely hear my own voice for the passionate throbbings of my heart.

Forgive me, best and only beloved Helen, if there be bitterness in my tone. Towards you there is no room in my soul [page 6] for any other sentiment than devotion: — it is Fate only which I accuse: — it is my own unhappy nature which wins me the true love of no woman whom by <by> any possibility I could love.

I heard something, a day or two ago, which, had your last letter never reached me, might not irreparably have disturbed the relations between us, but which, as it is, withers forever all the dear hopes up-springing in my bosom. — A few words will explain to you what I mean. Not long after the receipt of your Valentine I learned, for the first time, that you were free — unmarried. I will not pretend to express to you what is absolutely inexpressible — that wild — long-enduring thrill of joy which pervaded my whole being on hearing that it was not impossible I might one day call you by the sacred title, wife: — but there was one alloy to this happiness: — I dreaded to find you in worldly circumstances superior to my own. Let me speak freely to you now, Helen, for perhaps I may never thus be permitted to speak to you again — Let me speak openly — fearlessly — trusting to the generosity of your own spirit for a true interpretation of my own. I repeat, then, that I dreaded to find you in worldly circumstances superior to mine. So great was my fear that you were rich, or at least [page 711:] possessed some property which might cause you to seem rich in the eyes of one so poor as I had always permitted myself to be — that, on the day I refer to, I had not the courage to ask my informant any questions concerning you. — I feel that you will have difficulty in comprehending me; but the horror with which, during my sojourn [page 7] in the world, I have seen affection made a subject of barter, had, long since, — long before my marriage — inspired me with the resolution that, under no circumstances, would I marry where “interest,” as the world terms it, could be suspected as, on my part, the object of the marriage. As far as this point concerned yourself, however, I was relieved, the next day, by an assurance that you were wholly dependent upon your mother. May I — dare I add — can you believe me when I say that this assurance was rendered doubly grateful to me by the additional one that you were in ill health and had suffered more from domestic sorrow than falls usually to the lot of woman? — and even if your faith in my nature is not too greatly tasked by such an assertion, can you forbear thinking me unkind, selfish or ungenerous? You cannot: — but oh! the sweet dreams which absorbed me at once: — dear dreams of a devotional care for you that should end only with life — of a tender, cherishing, patient solicitude which should bring you back, at length, to health and to happiness — a care — a solicitude — which should find its glorious reward in winning me, after long years, that which I could feel to be your love! Without well understanding why, I had been led to fancy you ambitious: — perhaps the fancy arose from your lines:

Not a bird that roams the forest

Shall our lofty eyrie share! —

but my very soul glowed with ambition for your sake, although I have always contemned it for my own. It was then only — then when I thought of you — that I dwelt exultingly upon what I felt that I could accomplish in Letters and in Literary Influence — in the widest and noblest field of human ambition. [page 8] “I will erect”, I said, “a prouder throne than any on which mere monarch ever sat; and on this throne she — she shall be my queen”. When I saw you, however — when I touched your gentle hand — when I heard your soft voice, and [page 712:] perceived how greatly I had misinterpreted your womanly nature — these triumphant visions melted sweetly away in the sunshine of a love ineffable; and I suffered my imagination to stray with you, and with the few who love us both, to the banks of some quiet river, in some lovely valley of our land. Here, not too far secluded from the world, we exercised a taste controlled by no conventionalities, but the sworn slave of a Natural Art, in the building for ourselves a cottage which no human being could ever pass without an ejaculation of wonder at its strange, weird, and incomprehensible yet most simple beauty. Oh, the sweet and gorgeous, but not often rare flowers in which we half buried it! — the grandeur of the little-distant magnolias and tulip-trees which stood guarding it — the luxurious velvet of its lawn — the lustre of the rivulet that ran by the very door — the tasteful yet quiet comfort of the interior — the music — the books — the unostentatious pictures — and, above all, the love — the love that threw an unfading glory over the whole! — Ah Helen! my heart is, indeed, breaking and I must now put an end to these divine dreams. Alas! all is now a dream; for I have lately heard that of you which, (taken in connexion with your letter and with that of which your letter does not assure me) puts it forever out of my power to ask you — again to ask you — to become my wife. That [page 9] many persons, in your presence, have declared me wanting in honor, appeals irresistibly to an instinct of my nature — an instinct which I feel to be honor, let the dishonorable say what they may, and forbids me, under such circumstances, to insult you with my love: — but that you are quite independent in your worldly position (as I have just heard) — in a word that you are comparatively rich while I am poor, opens between us a gulf — a gulf, alas! which the sorrow and the slander of the World have rendered forever impassable — by me.

I have not yet been able to procure all the criticisms &c. of which you spoke, but will forward them, by express, in a day or two. Meantime I enclose the lines by Miss Fuller; and “The Domain of Arnheim” which happens to be at hand, and which, moreover, expresses much of my soul. — It was about the 10th of Sep., I think, that your sweet MS. verses reached me in Richmond. I lectured in Lowell on the 10th of July. Your first letter was received by me, at [page 713:] Fordham, on the evening of Saturday, Sep. 30. I was in Providence, or its neighborhood, during the Monday you mention. In the morning I re-visited the cemetery: — at 6 P.M. I left the city in the Stonington train for N. Y. I cannot explain to you — since I cannot myself comprehend — the feeling which urged me not to see you again before going — not to bid you a second time farewell. I had a sad foreboding at heart. In the seclusion of the cemetery you sat by my side — on the very spot where my arm first tremblingly encircled your waist.

Edgar

Note: In spite of Poe’s pronouncement that he “must now speak to you the truth or nothing,” the present letter is full of manipulations of fact. For example, Poe misrepresents his loss of inheritance from John Allan. Although he did leave home in 1827 over a disagreement about debts from his days at the University of Virginia, the ongoing difficulties of the relationship with his foster father, and the birth of sons from Allan’s second marriage, probably would have produced the same results. (Poe also held hopes of remaining in Allan’s will for several years after this event.) The claim that Poe “did violence to my own heart” by marrying “for another’s happiness” is particularly curious. Surely, it is a reference to Virginia, but Poe’s precise meaning is unclear, especially in light of LTR-48. Even more intriguing, and cryptic, is the comment that he “sacrificed what seemed in the eyes of men my honor, rather than abandon what was honor in hers and in my own,” which may refer to Virginia or Mrs. Osgood. The “fiend” referred to is the same Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet mentioned at the beginning of page 5 of the present letter in connection with Anna C. Lynch, Margaret Fuller, and probably Anna Blackwell. (For more on Miss Blackwell, see LTR-270. For a repetition of Poe’s complaints against the “malignity” of Mrs. Ellet, see LTR-290 and LTR-306.) William Henry Channing and William Ellery Channing, the younger, were transcendentalists, “Frogpondians” as Poe humorously termed the whole group. Henry Norman Hudson, a New England Shakespearean, was belittled by Poe in the BJ, December 13, 1845 (see Writings, 3:339). For Hudson’s presence among the Bostonians at Poe’s Lyceum performance, see Writings, 3:299. Poe’s charges of plagiarism against Longfellow are well known (see LTR-194a and LTR-195, and notes). In the left margin of page 9, opposite “10th of Sep.,” Mrs. Whitman wrote: “It was earlier.” Poe is indeed wrong in his date of [page 714:] September 10, for he was back home in Fordham by September 5, the date of his first letter to her (LTR-276, although a somewhat duplicitous letter, written under a pseudonym). Poe’s lecture of July 10, 1848, was on “Poets and Poetry of America” (see Quinn, p. 565). The Poe Log (p. 755) says Poe visited Mrs. Whitman in Providence on September 21. Poe’s reference to “Monday,” therefore, is probably to September 25. The copy of “The Domain of Arnheim” which Poe says “happens to be at hand” was in the March 1847 issue of the Columbian Magazine. The now-lost copy which he gave to Mrs. Whitman included a handwritten note: “This story contains more of myself and of my inherent tastes and habits of thought than anything I have written” (quoted in TOM [T&S], 3:1266).

As in LTR-278, Poe sprinkles his appeal to Mrs. Whitman with literary references, including his own writings. TOM [Poems, 1:296] compares a section on page 2 of this letter, beginning “whom I love” and ending “Ever man offered to God,” to lines in Poe’s play “Politian” (scene VII, ll. 82-83): “and I will kneel to thee / and worship thee, and call thee my beloved.” One might also add the prefatory “and the angel Hope / Attend thee ever.” Poe’s quotation from Thomas Moore’s “Come, Rest in This Bosom” is perhaps from memory since it includes one small error and should read: “I know not — I ask not if guilt’s in that heart: — / I but know that I love thee whatever thou art.” (According to Mary Starr, this was Poe’s favorite song; see Van Cleef, “Poe’s Mary,” Harper’s Monthly, 78:637.) Poe almost surely added the italics intentionally. TOM [Poems, 1:295] finds a similarity to lines in “Politian” (scene VII, ll. 20-21). Poe quotes considerably more of Moore’s poem in “The Poetic Principle,” including the lines noted. (For additional commentary, see Pollin, “Light on ‘Shadow’,” ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, 18:166-173.) One other reference to “Politian” is mentioned by TOM [Poems, 1:292], comparing “the lustre of the rivulet that ran by the very door” in the present letter to “And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home, / And the rivulet that ran before the door” (scene IV, ll. 84-85). TOM [Poems, 1:125] traces Poe’s claim in the present letter that “I could scarcely hear my own voice for the passionate throbbings of my heart” to “Al Aaraaf” (part II, ll. 176-177): “But two: they fell: for Heaven no grace imparts / To those who hear not for their beating hearts.” The two lines “Not a bird that roams the forest / Shall our lofty eyrie share!” aptly close the sixty of Mrs. Whitman’s Valentine poem to Poe (marked “Providence, R. I., Feb. 14”), sent to Mrs. Lynch’s party and later published in the Home Journal of March 18, 1848. Willis’ headnote in the [page 715:] Home Journal remarks that its “intrinsic beauty” demands “separate publication” apart from the group of Valentine poems in the issue of March 4 (see TOM [Poems], 1:442-443 for the full poem). TOM [T&S, 3:1326-1327] cites the long passage beginning “I suffered my imagination ... ” as the genesis of “Landor’s Cottage,” published in the Flag of Our Union for June 9, 1849. For the passage beginning “Ah Helen! my heart is indeed breaking” and ending “all is now a dream,” no previous commentator seems to have noted the parallel situation and even language to Poe’s subsequent poem “A Dream within a Dream.” Compare the language and circumstances with “And, in parting from you now” and “My days have been a dream; / Yet if hope has flown away.... All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream.” Poe’s reference to the impotence of the pen is given as “powerlessness of the pen” in LTR-283.

Source: original MS (9 pp.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The letter is undated; but “Oct 18, 48” has been penciled in at the top of page one, “October 18, 1848” has been noted on the envelope that presumably belongs to this letter, and the envelope bears a very faded postmark of “New York [Oct.] 18.” The envelope is addressed to “Mrs Sarah Helen Whitman / Providence / R. I.” Besides the lock of hair Poe is said to have sent in this envelope, Poe probably sent the present letter, for on the envelope under the postmark is a “10” indicating the postal rate, too high for a small piece of paper and a lock of hair. (Poe’s September 5, 1848, letter of one page to Mrs. Whitman carried a five-cent rate.) The bracketed reading on page 3 is based on the restoration made by Dr. Varner and Mr. Lilly (see the source note to LTR-278). Poe is answering Mrs. Whitman’s letter of ca. October 10 (CL-724).

Letter 281 — 1848, October [CL-728] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Jane E. Locke (Lowell, MA):

My dear Mrs Locke,

Permit me, by this note, to make you personally acquainted with my friend, Mrs S. Anna Lewis: — through her works I am aware that she is already well known to you. I feel that I need not ask you to show her every attention: — You will do it for her own sake, for your own and for mine. [page 716:]

Faithfully Yours ever,

Edgar A. Poe.

Fordham — October — 1848.

To Mrs Jane Ermina Locke

Note: In connection with the present letter, see LTR-267 and LTR-282. For more on Mrs. Lewis, see the note to LTR-246a. Towards the end of October, Poe found himself deeply embroiled in a hostile battle between Mrs. Locke and Annie Richmond. Siding with Mrs. Richmond, Poe lost Mrs. Locke as an ally in his social ambitions (see The Poe Log, p. 762 and LTR-309). She continued to write to Mrs. Clemm, but this is the last known letter to her from Poe.

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. No exact dating seems possible. The letter was apparently intended for personal delivery, and therefore there is no address leaf.

Letter 282 — 1848, October [CL-729] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Annie L. Richmond (Lowell, MA):

Fordham — Oct — 48.

My very dear friend —

This note will be handed you by Mrs Stella Anna Lewis, of whose poetic genius you will remember I spoke so much at length in my late lecture at Lowell. But I need scarcely have alluded to this: — she is, no doubt, well known to you through her works; and I feel assured that you have but to know her personally to be as proud of her friendship as, unquestionably, she must and will be of your own[.]

Forever the most sincere of your friends

Edgar A. Poe.

Mrs N. L. Richmond.

Note: Mrs. Nancy Locke Richmond (1820-1898) was Poe’s “Annie.” Formerly Miss Heywood, she had married Charles B. Richmond, of Lowell, MA. She formally adopted the use of “Annie” shortly after the [page 717:] death of her husband on August 25, 1873 (see Miller, BPB, p. 250). Westford was the home of the Heywoods, and was not far from Lowell; Poe visited Westford at least once (see LTR-303). Poe met Annie through Mrs. Jane (Ermina Starkweather) Locke, at the time of his Lowell lecture on “The Poets and Poetry of America,” July 10, 1848. The friendship became a lasting one, ironically causing a rift between Poe and Mrs. Locke. Mrs. Sarah Anna Lewis was an unimportant New York poetess (see the note to LTR-246a).

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Philadelphia Free Library, Gimbel Collection. Having at one time been in the collection of Frederick Locker-Lampson, it bears the endorsement “F. Locker” on the verso. In a letter to Ingram, February 6 [1877 (?)], Locker-Lampson said he had a note from Poe to “Mrs. Richmond, dated Fordham, Oct 1848” (Ingram Collection, University of Virginia). No exact dating seems possible, but the phrasing is very similar to that of LTR-281, suggesting that both were written about the same time.

Letter 283 — 1848, ca. November 3 [CL-731] Poe (Lowell, MA) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

[.... .]

Oh how powerless is the pen to express such feelings as now consume me! May the God of Heaven protect you until I clasp you to my heart —

Your own

Edgar.

Note: In connection with this fragment, see LTR-284 and note. According to The Poe Log (pp. 762 and 764), Poe was in Lowell from after October 20 to about November 4. As recorded by Mrs. Whitman, “he visited Lowell at the invitation of friends who hoped to make arrangements for his giving another lecture there, a hope which was defeated by the excitement attending the presidential election before the inauguration of Zachary Taylor” (Mrs. Whitman to Ingram, December 15, 1876; reprinted in Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 463). Poe’s “powerlessness of the pen” in the present letter echoes the “impotence of the pen” from LTR-280. [page 718:]

Source: photocopy of the original MS (fragment, 1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The rest of the present letter is unlocated, and is presumed lost, as is the address leaf. Mrs. Whitman probably tore off the portion containing the signature (along with a few lines of text), as was her habit at times, for some friend. When it was sold by the Swann Auction Galleries, January 20, 1944, from the collection of Titus C. Geesey, the fragment was erroneously described as “written to Mrs. Annie L. Richmond of Providence to whom Poe was to have been married.” The fragmentary nature of the MS almost defies identification; however, the correspondent can hardly be Mrs. Richmond, to whom Poe was never engaged to be married, and who did not live in Providence. Instead, it was almost surely written to Mrs. Whitman, who did live in Providence, and to whom he was engaged in December 1848. Moreover, the tone of the fragment suggests that of Poe’s other letters to Mrs. Whitman, rather than those to Mrs. Richmond. Finally, Poe did not sign himself “Edgar” in his letters to Mrs. Richmond, but did in those to Mrs. Whitman. Accurate dating of the letter is most difficult. Assuming that the lines were to Mrs. Whitman, however, Ostrom assigned them to a lost letter from Poe of November 3, 1848. In a letter to Ingram, October 25, 1875 (Ingram Collection, University of Virginia), Mrs. Whitman mentions sending Poe a note about November 1-2 (CL-730) that “perplexed and agitated him.” She added that Poe’s reply of November 3 stated that he “should be at Providence on the following evening,” which would seem to agree with the close of the present letter.

Letter 284 — 1848, November 7 [CL-733] Poe (Providence, RI) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

Dearest Helen —

I have no engagements, but am very ill — so much so that I must go home, if possible — but if you say “stay”, I will try & do so. If you cannot see me — write me one word to say that you do love me and that, under all circumstances, you will be mine. Remember that these coveted words you have never yet spoken — and, nevertheless, I have not reproached you. It was not in my power to be here on Saturday as I proposed, or I would undoubtedly have kept my promise. If you can [page 719:] see me, even for a few moments do so — but if not write — or send some message which will comfort me.

[Signature missing]

Note: Poe’s inability to come to Providence on Saturday is treated in LTR-286.

Source: original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The bottom portion of the original letter seems to have been torn off, probably by Mrs. Whitman as a souvenir of Poe’s autograph. All printings show no signature. Though undated by Poe, the MS carries the following endorsements, presumably by Mrs. Whitman: in lower left corner, “Tuesday Nov 7”; and in lower right corner, “Edgar Poe to S H W. Nov 7 48/ 76 Benefit St — Providence R. I.” On the verso appears Mrs. Whitman’s note: “Written the day on which Mr Poe returned from Lowell. I sent him word I would meet him in half an hour at the Atheneum. S H W.” Whether she wrote to Poe directly or sent word by some messenger is not known. In a letter to Ingram, October 25, 1875, she mentions having sent Poe a note (CL-730, ca. November 1-2) that “perplexed and agitated him” (Mrs. Whitman’s letter to Ingram is reprinted in Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, pp. 344-349). In the same letter she cited Poe’s answer (November 3). See the MS fragment conjecturally assigned to this date (LTR-283).

Letter 285 — 1848, November 14 [CL-736] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

Steamboat Nov 14 1848

My own dearest Helen, so kind so true, so generous — so unmoved by all that would have moved one who had been less than angel: — beloved of my heart of my imagination of my intellect — life of my life — soul of my soul — dear, dearest Helen, how shall I ever thank you as I ought.

I am calm & tranquil & but for a strange shadow of coming evil which haunts me I should be happy. That I am not supremely happy, even when I feel your dear love at my heart, terrifies me. What can this mean? [page 720:]

Perhaps however it is only the necessary reaction after such terrible excitements.

After all the word happiness does not ex[press what] we feel. We need some more refined word which shall co[nvey] all [...] of hope & fear, of sorrow & of h[appiness].

It is 5 o’clock & the boat is just being made fast to the wharf. I shall start in the train that leaves New York at 7 for Fordham. I write this to show you that I have not dared to break my promise to you. And now dear dearest Helen be true to me [...]

Note: At the writing of the present letter, Poe was on his way from Providence to Fordham, as detailed in the final paragraph. His “promise” was most likely an assurance that he would not drink. In speaking of Mrs. Whitman as “life of my life” and “soul of my soul,”as in LTR-278 (five lines from the bottom of page 9 of the letter), Poe might be remembering Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, II, v, 28: “Life of Life”; also, “Peter Bell,” VI, xxx, 5; “Prince Athanase,” I, 22, and his “Soul out of my soul” in “Epipsychidion,” l. 238. Poe’s invocation of an ominous but unidentified “shadow of coming evil” seems to be an odd part of his strategy to woo Mrs. Whitman. As she later commented in a letter to Ingram, referring to the period of the present letter: “During this visit he had sought to persuade me, as he did in all his letters, that his happiness & welfare in time & in eternity depended upon me, and after many sad & stormy experiences he had won from me a promise that nothing should cause me to break my plighted troth to him but his own infirmity of purpose” (S. H. Whitman to J. H. Ingram, March 16, 1874; Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 78).

Source: transcript by Mrs. Whitman made for John H. Ingram (Ingram Collection, University of Virginia). The original MS is probably lost. The original letter had a postscript in which Poe thanked William J. Pabodie for kindness extended him during a recent illness in Providence; Pabodie borrowed the letter, after Mrs. Whitman made a copy, and later told her that he had either mislaid or lost it (see LL, p. 33). The ellipses after the final paragraph represent Mrs. Whitman’s own acknowledgment of a deletion: she inserted in parentheses (“something omitted here”). Before she gave the original MS letter to William J. Pabodie as a souvenir, she first copied a portion of the contents, including two additional sentences on the envelope of Poe’s letter to her of November 24 (LTR-290, [page 721:] postmarked Nov. 25). In doing so, she wrote “Nov. 14” over the Nov. 25 cancellation date of the envelope, apparently meaning that it contained something of value to her from the November 14 letter. These sentences have been inserted in their proper place, just before the final paragraph.

Letter 286 — 1848, November 16 [CL-737] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Annie L. Richmond (Lowell, MA):

Fordham Nov. 16th 1848 —

Ah, Annie Annie! my Annie! what cruel thoughts about your Eddy must have been torturing your heart during the last terrible fortnight, in which you have heard nothing from me — not even one little word to say that I still lived & loved you. But Annie I know that you felt too deeply the nature of my love for you, to doubt that, even for one moment, & this thought has comforted me in my bitter sorrow — I could bear that you should imagine every other evil except that one — that my soul had been untrue to yours. Why am I not with you now darling that I might sit by your side, press your dear hand in mine, & look deep down into the clear Heaven of your eyes — so that the words which I now can only write, might sink into your heart, and make you comprehend what it is that I would say — And yet Annie, all that I wish to say — all that my soul pines to express at this instant, is included in the one word, love — To be with you now — so that I might whisper in your ear the divine emotion[s], which agitate me — I would willingly — oh joyfully abandon this world with all my hopes of another: — but you believe this, Annie — you do believe it, & will always believe it — So long as I think that you know I love you, as no man ever loved woman — so long as I think you comprehend in some measure, the fervor with which I adore you, so long, no worldly trouble can ever render me absolutely wretched. But oh, my darling, my Annie, my own sweet sister Annie, my pure beautiful angel — wife of my soul — to be mine hereafter & forever in the Heavens — how shall I explain to you the bitter, bitter anguish which has tortured me since I left you? You saw, you felt the agony of grief with which I bade you farewell — You remember my expressions of gloom — of [page 722:] a dreadful horrible foreboding of ill — Indeed — indeed it seemed to me that death approached me even then, & that I was involved in the shadow which went before him — As I clasped you to my heart, I said to myself — “it is for the last time, until we meet in Heaven” — I remember nothing distinctly, from that moment until I found myself in Providence — I went to bed & wept through a long, long, hideous night of despair — When the day broke, I arose & endeavored to quiet my mind by a rapid walk in the cold, keen air — but all would not do — the demon tormented me still. Finally I procured two ounces of laudanum & without returning to my Hotel, took the cars back to Boston. When I arrived, I wrote you a letter, in which I opened my whole heart to you — to you — my Annie, whom I so madly, so distractedly love — I told you how my struggles were more than I could bear — how my soul revolted from saying the words which were to be said — and that not even for your dear sake, could I bring myself to say them. I then reminded you of that holy promise, which was the last I exacted from you in parting — the promise that, under all circumstances, you would come to me on my bed of death — I implored you to come then — mentioning the place where I should be found in Boston — Having written this letter, I swallowed about half the laudanum & hurried to the Post-Office — intending not to take the rest until I saw you — for, I did not doubt for one moment, that my own Annie would keep her sacred promise — But I had not calculated on the strength of the laudanum, for, before I reached the Post Office my reason was entirely gone, & the letter was never put in. Let me pass over, my darling sister, the awful horrors which succeeded — A friend was at hand, who aided & (if it can be called saving) saved me — but it is only within the last three days that I have been able to remember what occurred in that dreary interval — It appears that, after the laudanum was rejected from the stomach, I became calm, & to a casual observer, sane — so that I was suffered to go back to Providence — Here I saw her, & spoke, for your sake, the words which you urged me to speak — Ah Annie Annie! my Annie! — is your heart so strong? — is there no hope! — is there none? — I feel that I must die if I persist, & yet, how can I now retract with honor? — Ah beloved, think — think for me & for yourself — do I not love you [page 723:] Annie? do you not love me? Is not this all? Beyond this blissful thought, what other consideration can there be in this dreary world! It is not much that I ask, sweet sister Annie — my mother & myself would take a small cottage at Westford — oh so small — so very humble — I should be far away from the tumult[s] of the world — from the ambition which I loathe — I would labor day & night, and with industry, I could accomplish so much — Annie! it would be a Paradise beyond my wildest hopes — I could see some of your beloved family every day, & you often — oh VERY often — I would hear from you continually — regularly & our dear mother would be with us & love us both — ah darling — do not these pictures touch your inmost heart? Think — oh think for me — before the words — the vows are spoken, which put yet another terrible bar between us — before the time goes by, beyond which there must be no thinking — I call upon you in the name of God — in the name of the holy love I bear you, to be sincere with me — Can you, my Annie, bear to think I am another’s? It would give me supremeinfinite bliss to hear you say that you could not bear it — I am at home now with my dear muddie who is endeavoring to comfort me — but the sole words which soothe me, are those in which she speaks of “my Annie” — she tells me that she has written you, begging you to come on to Fordham — ah beloved Annie, IS IT NOT POSSIBLE? I am so ill — so terribly, hopelessly ILL in body and mind, that I feel I CANNOT live, unless I can feel your sweet, gentle, loving hand pressed upon my forehead — oh my pure, virtuous, generous, beautiful, beautiful sister Annie! — is it not POSSIBLE for you to come — if only for one little week? — until I subdue this fearful agitation, which if continued, will either destroy my life or, drive me hopelessly mad — Farewell — here & hereafter —

forever your own

Eddy —

Note: The present letter is of the utmost importance; it profoundly reveals the sincerity of Poe’s feeling for Mrs. Richmond, a feeling which did not decrease in its passion during the rest of his life. This letter also sheds light, to some extent, on Poe’s movements at this time. As explained in the note to LTR-283, Poe had gone to Lowell in the hope of [page 724:] delivering a lecture. Mrs. Whitman seems to have written to Poe about the beginning of November, and he answered that he would reach Providence on November 4. Thus, Poe set out for Providence on November 4, buying laudanum there. He returned to Boston on the November 5, composing the unsent letter to Mrs. Richmond and swallowing the unfortunate dose of laudanum on the same day. During the next two days, he endured the effects of the laudanum, finally recuperating. He then proceeded to Providence, writing his note of Tuesday, November 7, to Mrs. Whitman (LTR-284). Even as he was later courting Mrs. Shelton, Poe continued to dream of a home for himself and Mrs. Clemm in Westford or Lowell, in order to be near Mrs. Richmond (see LTR-303 and LTR-330). The stark contrast between the intense emotion expressed here and the rather formal objectivity of the note of October 1848 (LTR-282) urges explanation. Given his social ambitions with Mrs. Lewis, Poe would not reveal his feelings for Mrs. Richmond in a letter of introduction, a letter which Mrs. Lewis would surely read.

The phrase “I clasp you to my heart” also occurs in LTR-283 and LTR-290, both to S. H. Whitman. Ironically, when Poe says, “... how my soul revolted from saying the words which were to be said,” he alludes to his proposed engagement to Mrs. Whitman. For Poe’s varied opinions on the topic of ambition see LTR-179. TOM [Poems, 1:453-454], excerpts many phrases from this letter as reflective of elements in Poe’s poem “For Annie,” first printed in the April 28, 1849 Flag of Our Union, the MS of which Poe sent to Annie on March 23. Although Poe’s account of this apparent suicide attempt is accepted without reservation by most biographers, TOM [Poems, 1:566, n. 10] expressed doubts. The detail of “a friend was at hand, who aided & ... saved me,” may be the most unlikely and suspicious aspect of the episode.

Source: transcript by Annie Richmond, from the original MS, for Ingram (University of Virginia, Ingram Collection). The original MS is unlocated, and is probably lost. At the head of her transcript, Mrs. Richmond wrote: “Copy of a letter written at Fordham Nov. 16th 1848 —.” Ingram noted on the transcript: “This must be burnt. J. H. I.” The letter Poe wrote to Mrs. Richmond in Boston (CL-732), if it ever existed, has never come to light. In the transcript of the present letter “laudanum” is spelled correctly twice, and twice incorrectly as “laudnum.” It is possible that this careless spelling was Poe’s, perhaps resulting from his overwrought condition, but it is here corrected under the assumption that the error is that of the transcriber. [page 725:]

Letter 287 — 1848, November 20 [CL-741] Poe (New York, NY) to Edward Valentine (Botetourt Co, VA):

New-York, — Nov. 20th 1848:

Dear Sir,

After a long & bitter struggle with illness, poverty, and the thousand evils which attend them, I find myself at length in a position to establish myself permanently, and to triumph over all difficulties, if I could but obtain, from some friend, a very little pecuniary aid. In looking around me for such a friend, I can think of no one, with the exception of yourself, whom I see the least prospect of interesting in my behalf — and even as regards yourself, I confess that my hope is feeble. In fact I have been so long depressed that it will be a most difficult thing for me to rise — and rise I never can without such aid as I now entreat at your hands. I call to mind, however, that, during my childhood, you were very kind to me, and, I believe, very fond of me. For this reason and because I really do not know where else to turn for the assistance I so much need at this moment, I venture to throw myself upon your generosity & ask you to lend me $200. With this sum I should be able to take the first steps in an enterprise where there could be no doubt of my success, and which, if successful, would, in one or two years ensure me fortune and very great influence. I refer to the establishment of a Magazine for which I have already a good list of subscribers, and of which I need a Prospectus — If for the sake of “auld lang syne” you will advance me the sum needed, there are no words which can express my gratitude.

Most sincerely yours,

Edgar A. Poe

Edward Valentine Esq

Note: Edward Valentine, not to be confused with Edward Virginius Valentine (1838-1930), was a brother of the first Mrs. Allan (see W [1909] 2:282). The present letter was sent by Poe with one to Miss Susan Talley (CL-740), probably of the same date, requesting that she forward the enclosed letter (see Miss Talley’s letter to Poe, November 29, 1848, CL-749). Mr. Valentine’s name appears on the list of Such Friends as no. 142 (p. 37): “Edward Valentine Botetourt Co. Va. (visit).” Botetourt [page 726:] County is next to Roanoke County, far to the west of the state and unlikely to be a casual destination for Poe, even when he was in Richmond. The question of a “visit” may be answered by Miss Talley’s letter to Poe, November 29, 1848, which notes that “Mr. Valentine will be in Richmond in the course of a week or two” (CL-749). Poe had been in Richmond during the summer of 1848, and planned to be there again around the beginning of June (see LTR-318), although his letter to Thompson of December 7 (LTR-292a) suggests the intention of an earlier visit. He may have hoped to time his trip to coincide with another visit to Richmond by Valentine.

Source: transcript of the original MS made by Edward Virginius Valentine of Richmond, VA, for J. H. Ingram (now in the Ingram Collection, University of Virginia). The original MS is unlocated. Ingram’s printing of the letter, followed by H [Works, 17:315-316], reads “of which I send a Prospectus” (see the next to last sentence, above), a very different matter from Poe’s real statement. At the head of the MS copy, Mr. E. V. Valentine wrote: “A letter from Edgar Allan Poe to my cousin Mr Edward Valentine, of Buchanan, Botetourt County, Virginia. Mr Valentine is now 84 years of age. This is the letter I mentioned to you.” There is no evidence that Mr. Valentine replied to Poe’s entreaty.

Letter 287a — 1848, November 20 [CL-741a] Poe (New York, NY) to Bayard Taylor (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York: Nov. 20. 48.

J. Bayard Taylor Esq.

Dr Sir — You would confer on me a very great favor (and one which I should be glad to reciprocate whenever & wherever you show me how) by inserting the enclosed (editorially) in “Graham”. I am aware that I am asking a great deal in asking you to adopt as your own anything so loosely written — but I count very much upon your good nature — and hope that a time may soon come when I shall be in condition to show you how truly I am

Your friend,

Edgar A. Poe. [page 727:]

Note: The item which Poe wished Taylor to insert in Graham’s was probably the brief and highly favorable review of Mrs. S. Anna Lewis’s Child of the Sea and Other Poems (Graham’s Magazine, April 1849, 34:270-271). This review was attributed to Poe by Heartman & Canny [1943], p. 210, and by W. D. Hull and TOM [Iowa]. Hull, in particular, notes similarities in several phrases between this review and one in the SLM (September 1848, 14:569-571; see Writings, 5:374-375). Why Taylor delayed the fulfillment of Poe’s request cannot be determined. Further authentication, however, is provided by R. H. Stoddard, who stated that he once had a letter from Poe to Bayard Taylor, asking Taylor to include the notice “as his own [Taylor’s] production” (“Edgar Allan Poe,” Lippincott’s Magazine, 43:113, and repeated in Recollections, p. 159). Taylor had joined the editorial staff of Graham’s in September 1848 (American Magazines, 1:544). For information on Taylor, including an explanation of the “J.” given as a first initial, see the note to LTR-271. For another example of Poe’s campaign to promote Mrs. Lewis, see LTR-304.

Source: photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the sale catalog for the Estelle Doheny collection, Christie’s (NY), February 22, 1989, 5:220-221 (item 2083). In the MS, the city and date are underlined. Another simple line appears under Poe’s signature.

Letter 288 — 1848, November 22 [CL-742] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

Wednesday Morning — the 22 d.

My dearest Helen —

Last Monday I received your note, dated Friday, and promising that on Tuesday I should get a long letter from you. It has not yet reached me, but I presume will be at the P.O. when I send this in. In the meantime, I write these few words to thank you, from the depths of my heart, for the dear expressions of your note — expressions of tenderness so wholly undeserved by me — and to assure you of my safety and health. The terrible excitement under which I suffered, has subsided, and I am as calm as I well could be, remembering what has past [sic]. Still the Shadow of Evil haunts me, and, although tranquil, I am unhappy. I dread the Future. — and you alone can rëassure me. [page 728:] I have so much to say to you, but must wait until I hear from you. My mother was delighted with your wish to be remembered and begs me to express the pleasure it gave her.

Forever your own

Edgar

Remember me to Mr Pabodie.

Note: The present letter may remind some readers of Poe’s letter of September 11, 1835 to John P. Kennedy (LTR-50), where he seems to express a similar sense of inexplicable dread, although apparently less oppressive here. Poe previously mentioned a “shadow of coming evil,” as well as his curious sense of unhappiness in spite of his professed love for Mrs. Whitman, in LTR-285. In regard to Mrs. Whitman’s promised letter, see LTR-290. For Poe’s “terrible excitement” see LTR-286. For Mr. Pabodie, often mentioned in Poe’s correspondence with Mrs. Whitman, see LTR-292 and note. In sending to Ingram transcripts of several of Poe’s letters, Mrs. Whitman explained, “You will see in this & the other letters of which I spoke indications of character which will enable you to understand, as nothing else could do, the singular & complex elements of his nature — the intense superstition; the haunting dread of evil; the tender, remorseful love; the prophetic imagination, now proud & exultant, now melancholy & ominous; the keen susceptibility to blame; the sorrowful & indignant protest against injustice [and] reproach” (S. H. Whitman to Ingram, March 20, 1874; reprinted in Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 89).

Examining the word “rëassure,” Poe’s consistent practice is to place the dieresis over the first of two sounded successive vowels despite the different practice of printers of English texts everywhere. Poe’s custom is discussed with many details and examples in Writings, 2:xxxviii-xl. As a simple past participle in a perfect tense verb, “what has past,” even in Poe’s day, would be considered ungrammatical. The OED furnishes no example of nineteenth century usage. Poe may have intended “what is past” or “what has passed.”

Source: original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. A pencilled notation, presumably by Mrs. Whitman, appears on the verso of page 1: “November 22, 1848 / 3 Letters written on the 22, 24 & 26 of November”; moreover, the verso of page 1 carries the postmark: “New [page 729:] York / 22 Nov / 5 cts”; and the address: “Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman / Providence / R.I.” Poe is answering Mrs. Whitman’s “note” of November 17 (CL-738).

Letter 289 — 1848, November 23 [CL-743] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Miss Sarah H. Heywood (Westford, MA):

Fordham Nov. 23d 1848 —

Dear Sarah — my own dear sister Sarah —

If there is any pity in your heart reply immediately to this letter, & let me know why it is, I do not hear from Annie — If I do not hear from her soon, I shall surely die — I fancy everything evil — sometimes I even think that I have offended her, & that she no longer loves or cares for me — I wrote her a long letter eight days ago, enclosing one from my mother who wrote again on the 19th[.] Not one word has reached us in reply[;] oh Sarah, if I did not love your sister, with the purest & most unexacting love, I would not dare confide in you — but you do know, how truly — how purely I love her, & you will forgive me, for you know also, how impossible it is to see & not to love her — In my wildest dreams, I have never fancied any being so totally lovely — so good — so true — so noble so pure — so virtuous — her silence fills my whole soul with terror — Can she have received my letter? If she is angry with me dear Sarah, say to her, that on my knees, I beseech her to pardon me — tell her that I am her slave in all things — that whatever she bids me do, I will do — if even she says, I must never see her again or write to her — Let me but hear from her once more, & I can bear whatever happens. Oh Sarah you would pity me, if you knew the agony of my heart, as I write these words — do not fail to answer me at once[.]

God bless you my sweet sister —

Edgar —

Miss S. H. Heywood.

Westford — Mass.

Note: Sarah Hartwell Heywood (1830-1913), younger sister of Annie Richmond, lived in Westford, MA. Poe’s letter to Mrs. Richmond of [page 730:] “eight days ago” was that of November 16 (LTR-286). Poe’s unrestrained willingness to reveal to Sarah his feelings for Annie demonstrates the emotional rather than the sensual foundation of his attraction to Mrs. Richmond. See also Poe’s letter of February 18, 1849, where he addresses Mrs. Richmond as “my sweet friend & sister” and expresses concern that her husband has “mistaken the nature — the purity of that affection which I feel for you ... ” (LTR-306).

Source: transcript by Annie Richmond of the original MS, made for J. H. Ingram (Ingram Collection, University of Virginia). The original MS is probably lost; see TOM [Poems, 1:453], however, where he mentions seeing full transcripts which were apparently made but are now unlocated: “In one of the unpublished passages, Poe definitely said that he thought that more than platonic friendship for them would be denied.” In the transcript, an error appears: “Can she have recieved [sic] my letter?” The error is presumed as a mistake in copying, and has been corrected in the text of the letter presented here. No letter from Annie or Sarah is known between the present date and December 28, 1848 (LTR-296), when Poe again wrote to Annie. His December letter, however, may imply one received from Mrs. Richmond (CL-758a).

Letter 290 — 1848, November 24 [CL-745] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

Friday the 24th.

In a little more than a fortnight, dearest Helen, I shall, once again, clasp you to my heart: — until then I forbear to agitate you by speaking of my wishes — of my hopes, and especially of my fears. You say that all depends on my own firmness. If this be so, all is safe — for the terrible agony which I have so lately endured — an agony known only to my God and to myself — seems to have passed my soul through fire and purified it from all that is weak. Henceforward I am strong: — this those who love me shall see — as well as those who have so relentlessly endeavored to ruin me. It needed only some such trials as I have just undergone, to make me what I was born to be, by making me conscious of my own strength. — But all does not depend, dear Helen, upon my firmness — all depends upon the sincerity of your love. [page 731:]

You allude to your having been “tortured by reports which have all since been explained to your entire satisfaction”. On this point my mind is fully made up. I will rest neither by night nor day until I bring those who have slandered me into the light of day — until I expose them, and their motives, to the public eye. I have the means and I will ruthlessly employ them. On [page 2] one point let me caution you, dear Helen. No sooner will Mrs E. hear of my proposals to yourself, than she will set in operation every conceivable chicanery to frustrate me: — and, if you are not prepared for her arts, she will infallibly succeed — for her whole study, throughout life, has been the gratification of her malignity by such means as any other human being would die rather than adopt. You will be sure to receive anonymous letters so skillfully contrived as to deceive the most sagacious. You will be called on, possibly, by persons whom you never heard of, but whom she has instigated to call & villify [sic] me — without even their being aware of the influence she has exercised. I do not know any one with a more acute intellect about such matters than Mrs Osgood — yet even she was for a long time completely blinded by the arts of this fiend & simply because her generous heart could not conceive how any woman could stoop to machinations at which the most degraded of the fiends would shudder. I will give you here but one instance of her baseness & I feel that it will suffice. When, in the heat of passion — stung to madness by her inconceivable perfidy & by the grossness of the injury which her jealousy prompted her to inflict upon all of us — upon both families — I permitted myself to say what I should not have said — I had no sooner uttered the words, than I felt their dishonor. I felt, too, that, although she must be damningly conscious of her own baseness, she would still have a right to reproach me for having betrayed, under any circumstances, her confidence.

[page 3] Full of these thoughts, and terrified almost to death lest I should again, in a moment of madness, be similarly tempted, I went immediately to my secretary — (when these two ladies went away — ) made a package of her letters, addressed them to her, and with my own hands left them at her door. Now, Helen, you cannot be prepared for the diabolical malignity which followed. Instead of feeling that I had done all I could to repair an unpremeditated wrong — instead of feeling that almost any other person would have retained the letters to make good (if occasion required) the assertion that I possessed them — instead of [page 732:] this, she urged her brothers & brother in law to demand of me the letters. The position in which she thus placed me you may imagine. Is it any wonder that I was driven mad by the intolerable sense of wrong? — If you value your happiness, Helen, beware of this woman! She did not cease her persecutions here. My poor Virginia was continually tortured (although not deceived) by her anonymous letters, and on her death-bed declared that Mrs. E. had been her murderer. Have I not a right to hate this fiend & to caution you against her? You will now comprehend what I mean in saying that the only thing for which I found it impossible to forgive Mrs O. was her reception of Mrs E.

Be careful of your health, dearest Helen, and perhaps all will yet go well. Forgive me that I let these wrongs prey upon me — I did not so bitterly feel them until they threatened to deprive me of you. I confess, too, that the [intolerable insults of your mother & sister still rankle at] my heart — but for your dear sake I will endeavor to be calm.

Your lines “To Arcturus” are truly beautiful. I would retain the Virgilian words — omitting the translation. The first note leave out: — [page 4] 61 Cygni has been proved nearer than Arcturus & Alpha Lyrae is presumably so. — Bessel, also, has shown 6 other stars to be nearer than the brighter ones of this hemisphere. — There is an obvious tautology in “pale candescent” [.] To be candescent is to become white with heat. Why not read — “To blend with thine its incandescent fire?” Forgive me, sweet Helen, for these very stupid & captious criticisms. Take vengeance on my next poem. — When “Ulalume” appears, cut it out & enclose it: — newspapers seldom reach me. — In last Saturday’s “Home Journal” is a letter from M. C. [sic] (who is it?). I enclose a passage which seems to refer to my lines:

— the very roses’ odors

Died in the arms of the adoring airs.

The accusation will enable you to see how groundless such accusations may be, even when seemingly best founded. Mrs H’s book was [page 733:] published 3 months ago. You had my poem about the first of June — was it not?

Forever Your own,

Edgar.

Remember me to Mr Pabodie — Mrs Burgess & Mrs Newcomb.

Note: “Mrs. E” refers to Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet, mentioned in LTR-280 (see also LTR-306). For information on Poe’s correspondence with Mrs. Ellet, see APXA-Ellet. See also the brief view in The Poe Log (pp. 604-605) and Silverman (pp. 288-292) for observations on the imposing, accomplished, officious, and complicated Mrs. Ellet. Eager to emphasize any possible “malignity” of Mrs. Ellet, Poe here seems to invent the accusatory final utterance for Virginia, whose “illness [was] hopeless from the first” (LTR-246); see also her resigned death-bed attitude in LTR-248. The letters from Mrs. Ellet alluded to by Poe in the present letter to Mrs. Whitman are unlocated. “Mrs. O.” is Frances S. Osgood. For the Osgood-Ellet relationship to the incident that Poe describes, see W [1909] 2:183-184, and Quinn, pp. 497-498. The “two ladies” mentioned in sentence 1, page 3, are identified in the right margin of the original MS by Mrs. Whitman as “Miss L[ynch] & Margaret F[uller],” though Miss Lynch apparently disowned her part in the affair (see Quinn, p. 498). “Ulalume” was first published in the American Review, December 1847 (see Quinn, p. 532 and TOM [Poems, 1:415]). The lines which Poe thought referred to his poem “To Helen” (1848) appeared in the Home Journal of November 25, 1848. The Poe Log speculates that “M. C.” (actually “C. M.”) was Caroline May (p. 771). “Mrs. H” is Mary Hewitt, whose The Songs of Our Land and Other Poems was reviewed by Poe in the BJ, October 25, 1845 (reprinted in H [Works], 12:254-259, and Writings, 3:288-290). For William J. Pabodie, see the note to LTR-292. Mrs. Burgess and Mrs. Newcomb were friends of Mrs. Whitman. For Whitman’s delayed incorporation of Poe’s substitute line for her poem “To Arcturus,” see TOM [Poems], 1:493. Poe’s “secretary,” of course, is a desk, not a person. Concerning Poe’s erroneous spelling “villify,” see the note to LTR-194 for the variant instances.

Source: original MS (4 pp.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The entry “November 1848,” in handwriting resembling Mrs. Whitman’s, appears just above Poe’s dating, and at the end of page 4, Mrs. Whitman, presumably, wrote: [page 734:] “Fordham / November 24th 1848”; in the lower right corner of page 4, parallel to the edge of the leaf, she wrote: “From Edgar Poe / to Sarah Helen Whitman.” Near the end of page 3 of the MS is an obliterated passage, restored in the present printing in brackets, preceded by an asterisk, and at the foot of the page Mrs. Whitman supplied: “* the insults of your mother & sister still rankle at.” Her restoration seems accurate as far as it goes, but the obliterated space calls for additional filler. A clue is suggested for the missing word in Mrs. Whitman’s letter to Mrs. Mary Hewitt, September 25 or 27, 1850 (see Quinn, p. 585), where she quotes Poe’s epithet of resentment against her family as “intolerable insults”; the same phrase would fit the spacing and might well have been used both in the letter and on the occasion alluded to by Mrs. Whitman. Poe is replying to Mrs. Whitman’s letter of ca. November 18-20 (CL-739), promised in her note of November 17 (see the source note to LTR-288), and clearly sent, as the content of the above letter proves. See also APXA-Whitman for a reference to a few sentences about stimulants, incorrectly implied in Poe and His Critics as part of the present letter.

Letter 291 — 1848, November 26 [CL-746] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

Sunday Evening. 26

I wrote you yesterday, sweet Helen, but, through fear of being too late for the mail, omitted some things I wished to say. I fear, too, that my letter must have seemed cold — perhaps even harsh or selfish — for I spoke nearly altogether of my own griefs. Pardon me, my Helen, if not for the love I bear you, at least for the sorrows I have endured — more, I believe, than have often fallen to the lot of man. How much have they been aggravated by my consciousness that, in too many instances, they have arisen from my own culpable weakness or childish folly! — My sole hope, now, is in you, Helen. As you are true to me or fail me, so do I live or die.

I forgot to rëenclose your poem & do so now. Why have you omitted the two forcible lines —

While in its depths withdrawn, far, far away,

I see the dawn of a diviner day.? [page 735:]

— is that dawn no longer perceptible? <“> Who wrote the verses signed “Mary” I am unable to say.

Can you solve me the riddle of the poem [page 2] enclosed? It is from last Saturday’s “Home Journal.” Somebody sent it to me in M.S.

Was I right, dearest Helen, in my first impression of you? — you know I have implicit faith in first impressions. Was I right in the idea I had adopted before seeing you — in the idea that you are ambitious? If so and if you will have faith in me, I can & will satisfy your wildest desires. It would be a glorious triumph, Helen, for us — for you & me. I dare not trust my schemes to a letter — nor, indeed, have I room even to hint at them here. When I see you I will explain all — as far, at least, as I dare explain all my hopes even to you.

Would it not be “glorious”, darling, to establish, in America, the sole unquestionable aristocracy — that of intellect — to secure its supremacy — to lead & to control it? All this I can do, Helen, & will — if you bid me — and aid me.

I received yesterday a letter from Mr Dunnell. He says that they have “lost” their lecturer [page 3] for the 6th prox. & offers me that night instead of the 13th. I have written him, however, that I cannot be in Providence before the 13th.

My kindest regards to Mr Pabodie.

Devotedly Your own

Edgar

Preserve the printed lines. I send the M S. — perhaps you may recognise it.

As one of the “signs of the times” I notice that Griswold has lately copied my “Raven” in his “Hartford Weekly Gazette” — I enclose his editorial comments — so that you have quite a budget of enclosures.

P. S — I open this letter, dearest love, to ask you to mail me, as soon as possible, three articles of mine which you will find among the critical papers I gave you, viz: “The Philosophy of Composition” — [“]Tale-Writing — Nathl Hawthorne” — and a review of “Longfellow’s Poems.” I wish to refer to them in writing my Lecture [page 736:] & can find no other copies. Do not fail to send them dear dear Helen, as soon as you get this. Enclose them in a letter — so that I may be sure to get them in season.

Mrs O’s “Ida Grey” is in “Graham” for August — 45.

Note: Poe’s “yesterday” probably refers to his letter of November 24. For more about Mr. T. L. Dunnell, see LTR-279 and LTR-291a. For William J. Pabodie, see the note to LTR-292. For the critic Rufus White Griswold (not Poe’s editor and biographer), see Bayless, “Another Rufus W. Griswold as a Critic of Poe,” American Literature, 6:69-72. Poe’s suggestions to Mrs. Whitman on her poem “To Arcturus,” originally made in LTR-290, are covered by TOM [Poems, 1:493]. The riddle of the “enclosed” poem from the Home Journal was to perplex Poe for a while yet. In a letter to Annie Richmond, Mrs. Clemm says that the verses “were sent to Eddy in manuscript, and Mrs. W. says she knows it to be Grace Greenwood” (Miller, BPB, pp. 25-26). Miller comments that Grace Greenwood was Sara Jane Clark Lippincott. A later letter from Mrs. Clemm, however, corrects this identification of the unsigned author, saying “we have found out who wrote those verses that we attributed to Grace Greenwood: they were written by Mrs. Welby, of Kentucky” (Ingram, 2:201-202). Somewhat disconcerting in this letter is Poe’s ambition to “establish ... [an] unquestionable aristocracy ... of intellect ... if ... [Mrs. Whitman] ... will aid me.” Peering between the lines, the reader, and perhaps Mrs. Whitman as well, may sense an underlying motive for Poe’s ardent interest in the intelligent but also wealthy widow. Poe’s essay “The Philosophy of Composition” was printed in Graham’s Magazine (April 1846). The review of Hawthorne appeared in Godey’s (November 1847), and the review of Longfellow in the Aristidean (April 1845). “Mrs. O” was Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood. For a comment about the possible significance of her poem, mentioned in the postscript, see the note to LTR-276.

Source: original MS (3 pp.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The full dating is established by the following evidence: November 26, 1848, fell on Sunday; a strange hand noted in the upper right corner of the MS: “Nov 26 / 1848”; on the verso of Poe’s original to Mrs. Whitman, November 22, 1848, presumably in her hand, appears: “3 Letters written on the 22, 24 & 26 of November”; and finally, the content of the present letter [page 737:] supports the assigned dating. The reference to Poe’s letter to Dunnell (LTR-291a) is somewhat confusing. In all probability, Poe had not yet written that letter, dated November 27, when he wrote to Mrs. Whitman. Perhaps he had decided what he would write to Dunnell, or he began the present letter on the 26th and finished it the next day, after writing the Dunnell letter. In the MS, the word “lecturer” is broken across pages 2 and 3 as “lect-urer.” On page 3 the portion of original MS beginning with “Edgar” and ending with “enclosures” was cut out by Mrs. Whitman and given to James T. Fields in 1865. She then replaced the original with a copy, which accompanied the original MS until Mr. Lilly purchased a volume of Poetical Works of EAP (London: Sampson Low & Co., 1858) that had once been in the Fields collection. Tipped in the front of the book was the original fragment, with Fields’ endorsement: “given to me by Mrs. S. H. Whitman in 1865.” No reply to the present letter is known, but Mrs. Clemm’s letter (mentioned above) strongly suggests a letter in answer (CL-749a).

Letter 291a — 1848, November 27 [CL-747] Poe (New York, NY) to T. L. Dunnell (Providence, RI):

New-York — Nov. 27 — 48.

Dear Sir — I fully perceive the force of what you say — that the chance of a good audience is better for the earlier day, and thank you for your suggestion — while I regret that other arrangements will not permit me to avail myself of it. I believe that I must adhere to the 13th, and hope that my decision will put you to no inconvenience.

Very Respectfully

Yr Ob. St.

Edgar A. Poe

T. L. Dunnell Esq.

Note: For the lecture about which Poe is writing, see LTR-279 and note. What his “other arrangements” were is not known, and Poe may simply be creating a convenient excuse for not moving the lecture. Mrs. Whitman wrote Stoddard, September 30, 1872 (see Quinn, p. 579), that the lecture date ultimately had to be postponed owing to the excitement created by the presidential election of 1848. [page 738:]

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address, “T. L. Dunnell Esq. / Providence / R. I.”, is on a separate leaf, which is postmarked: “New-York 28 Nov., 5 cts” and which also carries the notation: “Edgar A Poe / Nov 27. 1848.” The present correspondence and the setting of December 20 as the lecture date, suggests another exchange of letters between Dunnell and Poe (CL-755 and CL-756).

Letter 292 — 1848, December 4 [CL-750] Poe (Fordham, NY) to William J. Pabodie (Providence, RI):

Fordham — Dec. 4 — 48.

My dear Mr. Pabodie —

On the principle of “better late than never” I seize the first opportunity afforded me, in the midst of cares and vexations of all kinds, to write you a few words of cordial thanks for your considerate and gentlemanly attentions to me while in Providence. I do hope that you will always think of me as one of the most obliged and most devoted of your friends. — Please say to Mrs. W., when you next see her, that I thank her for the “papers” and for her promptitude. Say, also, that perhaps Mrs. Wright is right, but that I believe her wrong, and desire to be kindly remembered. The commands, about Post, have been attended to. — Present my respects to Mrs. Allen and to your father.

Truly yours always.

Edgar Allan Poe

W. J. Pabodie Esqr

Note: William Jewett Pabodie (ca. 1815-1870) was a friend of both Mrs. Whitman and of Poe, but was opposed to their marriage (see Quinn, pp. 585-586). Poe seems to have thought well of him (and sends his regards in LTR-288, LTR-293, and elsewhere). Following Poe’s death, Pabodie wrote letters to the New York Tribune (June 2, 1852; reprinted in H [Works], 17:408-410, and see Quinn, pp. 679-681) and to Rufus W. Griswold (June 11, 1852; reprinted in H [Works], 17:412-415), discounting certain allegations made against Poe’s character. Poe had returned from Providence on November 14 (see LTR-285). In the [page 739:] postscript of LTR-291, Poe names three critical articles that he wishes to be returned to him. “Mrs. Wright” was probably Mrs. Paulina Wright, of Providence (see Varner, “Sarah Helen Whitman, Seeress of Providence,” 1:350). It is refreshing to see an example of Poe’s casual sense of humor, the pun on Mrs. Wright being wrong. “Mrs. W.,” of course, is Mrs. Whitman. Israel Post was one of the founders of the short-lived American Metropolitan (see The Poe Log, p. xxxix). At Mrs. Whitman’s prodding, Poe was to write critical notices for the magazine (see Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, pp. 35 and 104). “Mrs. Allen” has not been identified, but is probably another of Pabodie’s neighbors. According to Mrs. Whitman, “Poor Pabodie committed suicide just after he had, through the death of a brother, come into possession of a hundred thousand dollars” (see Whitman to Ingram, April 10, 1874; reprinted in Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 115).

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) in Ingram’s Works of EAP (1874), 1:lxxvii-lxxviii. The original MS is probably lost. The facsimile copy in Stoddard, Complete Works of EAP (New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1884; 1:158-159), shows several very minor variations from the one used by Ingram. The same plate seems to be in the Widdleton 1881 edition’s facsimile copy, but Ingram’s copy in the 1874 Works has priority and must be the “parent” for altered later plates.

Letter 292a — 1848, December 7 [CL-751] Poe (New York, NY) to John R. Thompson (Richmond, VA):

Dec. 7 — 48.

Dear Sir,

I have been out of town for some weeks, and your letter, in consequence, did not reach me as soon as it should. — Now, of course, it will be out of my power to send you anything in time for your January number — but as soon as I find time to write an article such as I think will suit you, you shall hear from me.

You know, I suppose, that I live at Fordham, Westchester Co. N. Y. — although, as we have no P. O. in the village, my letters are addressed “N. Y. City”. In our neighborhood are some ladies (the Whitings) who often speak (well) of you. [page 740:]

Can you spare me the number of the Messenger containing Miss Talley’s beautiful lines entitled “Genius”? If [page 2] I am not very much mistaken “Susan” will ere long, stand at the head of American poetesses. She has, in fact, more real genius than all of them put together. Not that she has accomplished so much — but she evinces a capacity to accomplish a very great deal.

If you have a spare sheet containing “Genius” please enclose it in an envelope. I hope to be in Richmond soon.

Truly your friend,

Edgar Allan Poe.

Jno. R. Thompson Esq.

Note: John Reuben Thompson (1823-1873) was a young lawyer, critic, and minor poet. The Richmonder became owner and editor of the SLM in 1847, sold his interest in 1853, but continued as editor until 1860 (see American Magazines, 1:629). For more on this editor’s great importance to Poe, see LTR-299. Thompson’s letter to Poe is the first known item in their correspondence, although Poe had already met Thompson personally (see LTR-275a). The article Poe thought would suit the SLM turned out to be a series of “Marginalia” (see Writings, 3:335-423). Poe’s statement that he had been out of town “for some weeks” is untrue, unless he meant in and out of the city on short trips (see LTR-286 through LTR-292, Poe’s letters being postmarked as mailed from New York). The “Whitings,” beyond Poe’s statement that they are neighbors, are unidentified. Susan Archer Talley, later Mrs. Weiss, was a Richmond poetess, and several decades after Poe’s death the author of “The Last Days of Edgar A. Poe.” (See her letter to Poe, November 29, 1848, CL-749, and Quinn, pp. 622-624.) Thompson sent Poe the requested copies of the Messenger (see LTR-299). In his review of Griswold’s Female Poets of America, published in the SLM, February, 1849, Poe repeats his praise of Miss Talley, saying that “she ranks already with the best of American poetesses, and in time will surpass them all ... her merits are those of unmistakeable genius” (see H [Works], 11:158 and Writings, 5:375). Her poem “Genius” appeared in the July 1848 issue of the SLM, signed only as “Susan.” The fourteen stanzas of ten verses each, of rather intricately rhymed lines, were in the July issue (SLM, 14:435-436). She cleverly addresses both the divine spirit and the endowed master-mortal by the title word. Poe’s concern with the topic, especially in the last two years of his life, reflects a deep conviction of his own genius — misunderstood, [page 741:] disregarded, and unrewarded. See the expression of this idea in the short essays and notes of the following “Marginalia” items from 1848 and 1849: M-189, M-190, M-192, M-221, M-224, M-238, and M-247 (Writings, 2:316-388). Poe did not go to Richmond quite as “soon” as might be suggested by his closing statement (see LTR-318).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Butler Library, Columbia University. There is no accompanying address or postmark. The present letter carries one of Poe’s rare uses of his full signature. Poe is replying to Thompson’s letter, before December 7, 1848 (CL-750a).

Letter 293 — 1848, December 16 [CL-753] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

New-York City —

Saturday, 2 P. M.

My own dearest Helen —

Your letters — to my mother & myself — have just been received, & I hasten to reply, in season for this afternoons [mail ...] I cannot be in Providence until Wednesday morning; and, as I must try and get some sleep after I arrive, it is more than probable that I shall not see you until about 2 P. M. Keep up heart — for all will go well. My mother sends her dearest love and says she will return good for evil & treat you much better than your mother has treated me. Remember me to Mr. P. & believe me

Ever Your own

Edgar.

Note: Poe was going to Providence to deliver his lecture on “The Poetic Principle,” December 20, 1848 (see LTR-279 and LTR-291). “Mr. P.” is W. J. Pabodie (see LTR-292). Poe’s “mother,” of course, was Mrs. Clemm, who was legally his mother-in-law, but as he memorably stated in “To My Mother” (Flag of Our Union, July 7, 1849) was emotionally “more than mother unto me” and “mother to the one I loved so dearly, / And thus are dearer than the mother I knew.” Mrs. Whitman’s mother, Anna Marsh Power, strongly opposed Poe’s plans to marry her daughter, and apparently made no pretense to the contrary (see LTR-302 and note). [page 742:] The forthright way in which she seems to have communicated this disapproval may have given Poe an implied right to speak equally strongly, and critically, about the woman who, if his plans proceeded, was to become his mother-in-law. Under other circumstances, his comment would surely be considered unchivalrous, especially of one who considered himself a Virginia gentleman.

Source: original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The letter itself carries neither postmark nor address, but an envelope addressed by Poe to Mrs. Whitman, postmarked December 18, 1848, is also in the Lilly Library. On it Mrs. Whitman wrote: “Fragment of a note, portions of which had been cut out & given away for autographs.” The envelope undoubtedly belongs with the present letter, substantiated by the content of the letter and the fact that December 16, 1848 fell on Saturday. The MS was cut in two after the third line, and on the basis of the paper of the present MS and that of the November 26 letter, both having the same width and the same embossed design, some eight or nine lines of the original MS seem to be missing. Evidence of wording belonging to the lost portion appears along the line of cutting, and the word “mail” has been careted by a strange hand following “afternoons,” the inference being that “mail” was the first word of the original fourth line and was preserved in this manner. Poe is answering Mrs. Whitman’s letter of December 14-15 (?), 1848 (CL-752).

Letter 293a — 1848, ca. December 19 [CL-754a] Poe (Lowell, MA) to Mrs. Maria Clemm (Fordham, NY):

... (?)

God bless you my own dear mother. I do not think it would be advisable for you to write, unless there is some very great necessity — for I might not get your letter.

Your own

Eddy

Note: The present note (probably fragmentary) was written while Poe was in Lowell, MA, very possibly just preceding his lecture in Providence, RI (see the note to LTR-293). Poe’s statement that a letter [page 742:] from Mrs. Clemm might not reach him was probably based on the fact that he was travelling, and therefore had no fixed address. For a somewhat more mysterious concern, see LTR-332 (and especially the note).

Source: original fragment of MS (1 p.) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. The page is cut along three sides and tipped to a larger slip on which “Edgar Allan Poe” is docketed in pencil just below the signature “Eddy” on the face of the fragment. On the verso of the fragment along the uncut edge is an endorsement preserved in the cutting: “Edgar Allan Poe / Presented by his Mother / Mrs. Clemm through / Mrs. C. H. Gilderslieve / Dec. 1864.” The fragment shows three folds (there were probably four). Also on the verso of the larger slip appears: “Lovell [sic] Mass” and a code identification, both in pencil. The excision went through what must have been the Lowell, MA, postmark, but left the last letter of the city and the state abbreviation. This portion is just behind the “Eddy”; thus Poe’s note runs from bottom to top behind the postal cancellation with “Eddy” at the right and the message at the left of center. Since the first line of the message is very close to the cut edge at the top, the original letter paper must have been larger than the present fragment. This suggests that a portion of the message may have been carried away in the cutting; the excised portion below the signature probably disposed of only a blank area on the face of the MS but undoubtedly carried off the name and address on the verso portion.

The following evidence supports a conjectural dating. Knowing that he was to lecture in Providence, RI, on December 20, 1848, Poe would likely have managed a visit with the Richmonds in Lowell, MA. His letter to Annie Richmond, December 28, 1848, strongly suggests that he did not see her after the lecture, the “[Lowel]l Ms” postmark supports his being in Lowell, and the tone of the note typifies the emotional stress that Poe underwent whenever he was absent from home. Thus, the most defensible time for his visit to Lowell was before the lecture. Moreover, problems related to his uncertain marriage to Mrs. Whitman seem to have kept him in Providence after the lecture until Saturday, December 23. Since both Mrs. Whitman and Mr. Pabodie stated that Poe left Providence for home in late afternoon or early evening (see Quinn, pp. 584-586; H [Works], 17:412-415), he must have taken the 6 p.m. train to Stonington in order to catch the 8 p.m. boat for New York, arriving there about 5 a.m. (Had he left Providence by 3 p.m. he could have taken the boat to Fall River to connect with the night boat to New York. No trains or boats operated on Sunday.) [page 744:]

Letter 294 — 1848, December 23 [CL-757] Poe (Providence, RI) to Mrs. Maria Clemm (Fordham, NY):

My own dear Mother —

We shall be married on Monday, and will be at Fordham on Tuesday. on [sic] the first train.

[Unsigned]

Note: After a brief but passionate courtship, at least emotionally, and a troubled and tempestuous engagement, the marriage between Poe and Mrs. Whitman never took place. Poe was back in Fordham by December 28 (see LTR-296). In connection with the severing of the engagement, see LTR-302.

Source: original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The MS has neither postmark nor address. Evidence for the authenticity of the letter is found in Pabodie’s letter to Griswold, June 11, 1852 (H [Works], 17:413) and in Mrs. Whitman’s letter to Mrs. Hewitt, September 1850 (see Quinn, p. 584, and Stanley T. Williams, “New Letters About Poe,” Yale Review, 14:761-763); Mrs. Whitman, however, speaks of the “second train of cars.” The phrase “on the first train,” following a period, seems to have been an afterthought. The dating is supported by the two letters just cited, Mrs. Whitman giving the exact date. The present letter could be an unfinished fragment; moreover, it may never have been sent.

Letter 295 — 1848, December 23 [CL-758] Poe (Providence, RI) to Reverend Nathan B. Crocker (Providence, RI):

Will Dr. Crocker have the kindness to publish the banns of matrimony between Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman and myself, on Sunday and on Monday. When we have decided on the day of the marriage we will inform you, and will thank you to perform the ceremony.

Respy yr. Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe. [page 745:]

Note: The Reverend Nathan Bourne Crocker (1781-1865) was an Episcopalian minister at St. John’s, in Providence, RI, where he was the rector during the period 1808-1865. Pabodie’s letter to Griswold and Mrs. Whitman’s letter to Mrs. Hewitt, both cited in the source note to LTR-294, indicate that Poe’s letter to Dr. Crocker was never delivered. In the J. K. Lilly Collection is the original draft of the present letter. Apparently incomplete, this draft reads: “Dear Sir, Will you have the kindness to publish the banns of matrimony between Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman and myself on Sunday and Monday. When we have.”

Source: original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. Poe delivered his lecture on “The Poetic Principle” before the Franklin Lyceum of Providence on the evening of December 20 (W [1909], 2:283-284; Quinn, p. 583). According to Pabodie, in a letter to R. W. Griswold, June 11, 1852 (H [Works], 17:413-414), Poe’s letter to Dr. Crocker was written within a few days after the lecture. Mrs. Whitman, writing to Mrs. Hewitt, on September 1850, gives the date of the letter as December 23 (see Stanley T. Williams, Yale Review, 14:755-773). Since Poe was back in New York on December 28 (see LTR-296, to Mrs. Richmond), the present letter must have been written prior to the Sunday on which the banns were to be published. December 23, Saturday, is the most likely date and agrees with Mrs. Whitman’s information.

Letter 296 — 1848, December 28 [CL-759] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Annie L. Richmond (Lowell, MA):

Thursday Morning — 28.

Annie, —

My own dear Mother will explain to you how it is that I cannot write to you in full — but I must write only a few words to let you see that I am well, lest you suspect me to be ill. All is right! [....] I hope that I distinguished myself at the Lecture — I tried to do so, for your sake. There were 1800 people present, and such applause! I did so much better than I did at Lowell. If you had only been there. [...] Give my dearest love to all.

Eddy. [page 746:]

Note: Poe lectured in Providence on the “Poetic Principle,” December 20, 1848 (see the note to LTR-279; also W [1909], 2:284). The Lowell, MA lecture was delivered on July 10, 1848; its subject had been “Poets and Poetry of America,” the topic of Poe’s earliest lectures, although presumably modified over the years. Mrs. Clemm’s explanation was a letter that accompanied the present one. It is quoted by Ingram as: “I feel so happy in all my troubles. Eddy is not going to marry Mrs. W. How much will I have to tell you.... All the papers say he is going to lead to the altar the talented, rich, and beautiful Mrs. W.... but I will tell you all in my next” (2:196). Mrs. Clemm’s “next” was dated January 11, 1849 (printed in Ingram, 2:201-202, and reprinted in The Poe Log, p. 785, with a few minor omissions).

Source: text of the letter as printed in Ingram (2:196-197). No original or transcript by Mrs. Richmond is known and there is no record of the portion marked only by ellipses. Though not fully dated, the letter belongs to December 1848. This is Poe’s first known letter to Annie since that of November 16 (LTR-286). No letter from her is known for the same period, though the present letter may imply one recently received (CL-758a).

Letter 296a — 1848, late [CL-759a] Poe (Lowell, MA or Providence, RI) to Mrs. Maria Clemm (Fordham, NY):

Note: Moved to LTR-293a.

Letter 297 — 1848, ca. late (?) [CL-761] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah A. Lewis (New York, NY):

Dear Mrs Lewis —

Upon the whole I think this the most spirited poem you have written. If I were you, I would retain all the prose prefix.

You will observe that I have taken the liberty of making some suggestions in the body of the poem — the force of which, I think, would be much increased by the introduction of an occasional short line. [page 747:]

For example

Hurtled by the blast —

Sadly fell his eye —

Heard her shrieks of wo —

As now, they flock to Rome —

And to Palestine —

Woke him from his dream —

And God will guide thy bark —

And the sun will shine —

Is a throne to me —

Pours a Paradise —

Sheds its holy light —

Will I cling to thee.

These short lines should be “indented” — as for instance

So, to cheer thy desolation,

Will I cling to thee.

[Unsigned]

Note: What Poe quotes as his example might appear to be a surprisingly Modernist bit of verse, but it is actually a simple list of the last line of each stanza of Mrs. Lewis’ poem “The Prisoner of Peroté.” Mrs. Lewis incorporated, without acknowledgment, all but one or two of Poe’s corrections. For Mrs. Lewis’ long delayed incorporation of Poe’s suggested changes see TOM [Poems], 1:493-496, in the section called “Collaborations.” Ingram’s statement in the Albany Review (“Poe and Stella,” 1:420-421) that “The Prisoner of Peroté” was published in Mrs. Lewis’ The Records of the Heart (deposited in Clerk’s Office for the Southern District of New York, April 20th, 1844, and published by George S. Appleton, 1844) is erroneous. Oddly, neither Poe nor Mrs. Lewis seems to have realized that “Perote” (in Veracruz, Mexico) should carry no accent. “The Prisoner of Peroté” was included by Mrs. Lewis in Myths of the Minstrel (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1852, pp. 29-32). The “prose paragraph,” a translation from a “Spanish paper,” appeared as a note in the appendix (p. 94); and in the “Advertisement” Mrs. Lewis said: “These Poems, with one or two exceptions, have been written since the publication of ‘Child of the Sea, and other Poems.’ ” Though the subject matter and tone of the present poem are typical of the [page 748:] other poems in Myths of the Minstrel, “The Prisoner of Peroté” may have been one of the “exceptions.”

Source: original MS (1 p.) written on page 4 of a MS of the poem, “The Prisoner of Peroté,” in the Ingram Collection, University of Virginia. On the front page of the MS appears: “These corrections and the note in pencil on the last page are Poe’s in his hand writing [sic] — Estella.” On the last page is Ingram’s note: “Poe MS. JHI.” The MS is undated, but the tone of Poe’s note on the MS of the poem, and Mrs. Lewis’ statement, both suggest a dating for the note between the summer of 1848, when “The Child of the Sea” was published (see LTR-272), and May 1849. (It should be noted that in the known letters from Poe to Mrs. Lewis, a familiar tone does not appear until May 17, 1849, though this evidence is scarcely conclusive.) A date as early as 1845 is also possible since Poe was living in New York at that time, and Phillips (2:1374) quotes Mrs. Lewis’ husband as saying that he first knew Poe in 1845. In view of the available evidence, the later dating seems the most reasonable. Poe may be answering a lost letter from Mrs. Lewis (CL-760), or an oral request.

Letter 298 — 1849, January 11 [CL-763] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Annie L. Richmond (Lowell, MA):

[...] Annie! [...]

It seems to me so long since I have written you that I feel condemned, and almost tremble lest you should have evil thoughts of [...] Eddy. [...] But no, you will never doubt me under any circumstances — will you [...] ? [...] It seems to me that Fate is against our meeting again soon — but oh, we will not let distance diminish our affection, and by-and-by all will go right. Oh, Annie, in spite of so many worldly sorrows — in spite of all the trouble and misrepresentation (so hard to bear) that Poverty has entailed on me for so long a time — in spite of all this I am soso happy to think that you really love me. If you had lived as long as I, you would understand fully what I mean. Indeed, indeed, Annie, there is nothing in this world worth living for except love — love not such as I once thought I felt for Mrs. —— but such as burns in my very soul for you — so pure — so unworldly — a love which would make all sacrifices [page 749:] for your sake. [I need not tell you, Annie, how great a burden is taken off my heart by my rupture with Mrs. W.; for I have fully made up my mind to break the engagement....] Could I have accomplished what I wished, no sacrifice would have seemed to me too great, I felt so burning — so intensely passionate a longing to show you that I loved you.... [Nothing would have deterred me from the match but — what I tell you....]

Write to me ... whenever you can spare time, if it be only a line. [...] I am beginning to do very well about money as my spirits improve, and soon — very soon, I hope, I shall be quite out of difficulty. You can’t think how industrious I am. I am resolved to get rich — to triumph — for your sweet sake. [...] Kiss dear Sarah for me — tell her I will write to her soon — we talk so much about her. When you write tell me something about B[ardwell]. Has he gone to Richmond? or what is he doing? Oh, if I could only be of service to him in any way! Remember me to all — to your father and mother and dear little Caddy, and Mr. R. and Mr. C. And now good-by, my own dear sister Annie!

[Signature missing]

Note: For an opposite attitude toward Fate, see LTR-138. “Mrs. — “ and “Mrs. W.” were Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman. What Annie wished Poe to accomplish was probably a settled married life. Amos Bardwell Heywood (1824-1899) was Annie’s brother, a school teacher and principal. For more on Bardwell, see Coburn, “Poe as Seen By the Brother of ‘Annie,’.” New England Quarterly, 16:468-476. “Caddy” (later Mrs. Edward Coffin) was the daughter of Charles B. Richmond and Annie, and though called “Caddy” in Poe’s correspondence with Annie, was generally known to her family and friends as “Carrie” (see The Poe Log, p. xl). “Mr. R.” was Mr. Richmond, Annie’s husband, and “Mr. C.” was the Reverend Warren H. Cudworth, of Lowell.

Source: composite of Ingram’s two printings of the letters, from Appleton’s Journal (May 1878, p. 425), and Ingram, 2:202-203, both presumably from a now lost transcript by Mrs. Richmond. (H [Works], 17:318-319, though ascribing the source as the “Griswold Collection,” is clearly following the Appleton printing. He also misdates the letter by [page 750:] placing it among those for 1848.) The Appleton’s fragment was here used as the basic text. Brackets enclose readings from the Life text which are not found in Appleton’s. (Curiously, considerable material printed in Appleton’s is not included in the Life text.) Since the MS appears to be lost, and there is no known full transcript, a complete printing is not possible. Ingram (2:201) says Poe’s letter to Mrs. Richmond, undated, was enclosed in one from Mrs. Clemm to Mrs. Richmond, which he dates January 11, 1849. Poe’s preceding letter to Mrs. Richmond (LTR-296, December 28, 1848) was but two weeks before the present one.

Letter 299 — 1849, January 13 [CL-764] Poe (New York, NY) to John R. Thompson (Richmond, VA):

New-York — Jan. 13. — 49.

My Dear Sir,

Accept my thanks for the two Messengers containing Miss Talley’s “Genius.” — I am glad to see that Griswold, although imperfectly, has done her justice in his late “Female Poets of America.”

Enclosed, I send you the opening chapter of an article, called “Marginalia”, published, about three years ago, in “The Democratic Review”. I send it that, by glancing it over — especially the prefatory remarks — you may perceive the general design — which I think well adapted to the purposes of such a Magazine as yours: — affording great scope for variety of critical or other comment. I may add that “Marginalia”, continued for five or six chapters, proved as popular as any papers written by me. — My object in writing you now, is to propose that I continue the papers in “The Messenger” — running them through the year, at the rate of 5 pages each month — commencing with the March number. You might afford me, as before, I presume, $2 per page.

One great advantage will be that, at a hint from yourself, I can touch, briefly, any topic you might suggest; and there are many points affecting the interests of Southern Letters — especially in reference to Northern neglect or misrepresentation of them — which stand sorely [page 751:] in need of touching. — If you think well of my proposal, I will send you the two first numbers [page 2] (10 pp.) immediately on receipt of a letter from you. You can pay me at your convenience — as the papers are published — or otherwise.

Please re-enclose me the printed papers, when you have done with them.

Very truly yours,

Edgar Allan Poe

Jno: R. Thompson Esq.

P.S — I am about to bestir myself in the world of Letters rather more busily than I have done for three or four years past — and a connexion which I have established with 2 weekly papers may enable me, now & then, to serve you in respect to “The Messenger”.

Note: For information on Thompson, and on Miss Talley, see the notes to LTR-292a. Thompson’s post on the SLM made him of particular interest and importance to Poe. See the many references to Thompson in The Poe Log, and Thompson’s long, astute, and appreciative memoir in the SLM of November 1849 (15:694-697), reprinting “The Bells” from Sartain’s Magazine and “Annabel Lee,” which Poe had given him. This memoir tellingly influenced European opinion of Poe by entering into Baudelaire’s very full “Life and Works of Poe,” in two articles in the Revue de Paris (March-April 1852; see in EAP: Seven Tales, ed. W. T. Bandy, New York: Schocken, 1971, pp. 3-5). Griswold’s Female Poets of America was “off the press” by December 30, 1848 (see the note to LTR-321). The “Marginalia” here cited appeared in J. L. O’Sullivan’s Democratic Review, November and December 1844 (reprinted in H [Works], 16:1-66, and Writings, 2:107-221). Of particular relevance to the ideas in the present letter is the full text of the “Preface” to “Marginalia,” presented and annotated in TOM [T&S], 3:1113-1118, and Writings, 2:107-115. Regarding Poe’s request for “$2 per page,” see LTR-301. Poe’s connections with “2 weekly papers” may refer to the American Metropolitan (see the notes to LTR-292 and LTR-309) and to the Flag of Our Union (see LTR-303 and note).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Huntington Library. In the first edition of The Letters [1948], Ostrom speculated about a possible letter preceding the present one, based on the apparent request for the SLM issues, designating it as CL-751. He also noted Woodberry’s [page 752:] statement (W [1909], 2:vii) that the Poe signature on the frontispiece was taken from a letter to Thompson, December 7, 1848, which was then unlocated. The MS for that letter was subsequently found, and printed as LTR-292a. The present letter, and the appearance of the “Marginalia” in the SLM also suggest at least one letter to Poe from Thompson (CL-765).

Letter 300 — 1849, January 20 [CL-766] Poe (Fordham, NY) to John Priestley (New York, NY):

Fordham, Saturday, January 20

May I trouble you to hand the accompanying brief article to Mr. Whelpley and see if he can give me $10 for it? About four years ago, I think, I wrote a paper on “The American Drama” for your review. It was printed anonymously — my name was not given in the index. The criticism referred chiefly to Willis’s “Tortesa” and Longfellow’s “Spanish Student.” Could you procure me the number containing it?

Truly your friend,

Edgar Allan Poe

Note: The precise role of John Priestley in regard to the American Review is uncertain, but he seems to have had a financial interest. The American Review; A Whig Journal was founded by George Hooker Colton in January 1845 (see American Magazines, 1:752). A notice of Colton’s untimely death appeared as an insert with the December 1847 issue, signed by “J. P.” The probability that “J. P.” was John Priestley is greatly enhanced by an announcement of the plans for continuing the review, printed with the issue of January 1848 and signed by “I. C. Colton” and “J. Priestley” as “Administrators.” James Davenport Whelpley was promptly raised to the position of editor, serving for the period 1848-1849. The “brief article” was “About Critics and Criticism,” identified by Poe’s ca. January 21, 1849 letter to Mrs. Richmond (LTR-301), in which he says: “I sent yesterday an article to the Am. Review, about ‘Critics and Criticism.’ ” It was not purchased by Whelpley, however, appearing only after Poe’s death, in Graham’s (January 1850, 36:49-51). Poe’s characterization of the article is misleading since it runs nearly three full pages of very small print in Graham’s and touches many central tenets of Poe’s critical views. Griswold reprinted the article as “E. [page 753:] P. Whipple and Other Critics” in the “Literati” volume of his edition of Poe’s Works, 3:382-388 [1850]. Poe’s “American Drama” had appeared in the American Review, August 1845 (reprinted in H [Works], 13:33-73).

Source: text of the letter as printed in Whitty, p. lxxi, with the signature added from Phillips, 2:1368, both probably from the original MS. (See a list of the rare instances when Poe signed his full name in the Introduction.) The present location of the MS is unknown. Whitty says the letter is to Priestley, proprietor of the American Review; an identification that is confirmed, and the year date established, by Poe’s letter to Mrs. Richmond (LTR-301), cited above. This is the only known letter between Poe and Priestley.

Letter 301 — 1849, ca. January 21 [CL-768] Poe (New York, NY) to Annie L. Richmond (Lowell, MA):

New York

My own faithful Annie!

How shall I ever be grateful enough to God for giving me, in all my adversity, so true, so beautiful a friend! I felt deeply wounded by the cruel statements of your letter — and yet I had anticipated nearly all.... [From the bottom of my heart I forgive her all, and would forgive her even more.] Some portions of your letter I do not fully understand. If the reference is to my having violated my promise to you, I simply say, Annie, that I have not, and by God’s blessing never will. Oh, if you but knew how happy I am in keeping it for your sake, you could never believe that I would violate it. The reports, if any such there be — may have arisen, however, from what I did in Providence on that terrible day — you know what I mean: — Oh — I shudder even to think of it. That ... [her friends] will speak ill of me is an inevitable evil — I must bear it. In fact, Annie, I am beginning to grow wiser, and do not care so much as I did for the opinions of a world in which I see, with my own eyes, that to act generously is to be considered as designing, and that to be poor is to be a villain. I must get rich — rich. Then all will go well — but until then I must submit to be abused. I deeply regret that Mr. R[ichmond] should think ill of me. If you can, [page 754:] disabuse him — and at all times act for me as you think best; I put my honor, as I would my life and soul, implicitly in your hands; but I would rather not confide my purposes, in that one regard, to any one but your dear sister.

[I enclose you a letter for Mrs. Whitman. Read it — show it only to those in whom you have faith, and then seal it with wax and mail it from Boston.... When her answer comes I will send it to you: that will convince you of the truth. If she refuse to answer I will write to Mr. Crocker. By the by, if you know his exact name and address send it to me.... But] as long as you and yours love me, my true and beautiful Annie, what need I care for this cruel, unjust, calculating world? Oh, Annie, there are no human words that can express my devotion to you and yours. My love for you has given me renewed life. In all my present anxieties and embarrassments, I still feel in my inmost soul a divine joy — a happiness inexpressible — that nothing seems to disturb. For hours at a time I sit and think of you — of your lovely character — your true faith and unworldliness. I do not believe that any one in this whole world fully understands me except your own dear self.... How glad I am to hear about Sarah’s living with you, and about the school. Tell her that she is my own dear sister, whom I shall always love. Do not let her think ill of me; I hope Mr. C[udworth] is well. Remember me to him, and ask him if he has seen my “Rationale of Verse” in the last October and November numbers of the Southern Literary Messenger.... I am so busy now, and feel so full of energy. Engagements to write are pouring in upon me every day. I had two proposals within the last week from Boston. I sent yesterday an article to the American Review about “Critics and Criticism.” Not long ago I sent one to the Metropolitan called “Landor’s Cottage:” it has something about Annie in it, and will appear, I suppose, in the March number. To the S. L. Messenger I have sent fifty pages of “Marginalia” — five pages to appear each month of the current year. I have also made permanent engagements with every magazine in America (except Peterson’s National), including a Cincinnati magazine called The Gentlemen’s. So you see that I have only to keep up my spirits to get out of all my pecuniary troubles. [The least price I get is $5 per “Graham page,” and I can easily average 1 1/2 per day — that is $7 [page 755:] 1/2. As soon as “returns” come in I shall be out of difficulty. I see Godey advertises an article by me, but I am at a loss to know what it is.] You ask me, Annie, to tell you about some book to read. Have you seen “Percy Ranthorpe,” by Mrs. Gore? You can get it at any of the agencies. I have lately read it with deep interest, and derived great consolation from it also. It relates to the career of a literary man, and gives a just view of the true aims and the true dignity of the literary character. Read it for my sake....

But of one thing rest assured, Annie — from this day forth I shun the pestilential society of literary women. They are a heartless, unnatural, venomous, dishonorable set, with no guiding principle but inordinate self-esteem. Mrs [Osgood] is the only exception I know. Our dear mother sends you a hundred kisses (fifty for Sarah). She will write very soon. Kiss little Caddy for me, and remember me to Mr. R[ichmond] and to all.

[I have had a most distressing headache for the last two weeks....]

[Signature missing]

Note: Poe’s concern about “that terrible day” in Providence is a reference to his bout of drinking and the resulting abrupt end of his engagement to Mrs. Whitman (see LTR-302). His “promise” to Mrs. Richmond was probably to give up drinking, a promise which, in spite of his denial, he had indeed broken. Mrs. Richmond’s letters to Ingram picture her husband, Charles B. Richmond (died 1873), as more-or-less favorably disposed toward Poe. Writing after March 13, 1855, she tells Ingram, “In justice to my dear husband, I feel in duty bound to tell you, that he never suspected Mr. Poe of anything dishonorable, though the Lockes’ [sic] did their best to poison him in every way, & make him believe their atrocious falsehoods” (Ingram Collection, reprinted in Miller, BPB, p. 168). On the other hand, she had previously written, on March 13, 1877, “while he [Mr. Richmond] had the most implicit confidence in Mr. Poe, these constant allusions to his having acted dishonorably toward Mrs. W. had their effect, & really came very near to putting an end to our correspondence — (I refer to the correspondence between Mr. Poe & myself)” (Ingram Collection; reprinted in Miller, BPB, p. 165). Mrs. Richmond’s sister was Sarah Heywood, then living with the Richmonds, in Lowell. The Reverend Warren H. Cudworth was Mrs. Richmond’s pastor and the author of “Mr. Poe as a Cryptographer,” in the Lowell Journal, April 19, 1850 (see Mrs. Richmond to Ingram, January 14, 1877, Ingram Collection, University of Virginia; reprinted in Miller, [page 756:] BPB, pp. 163-167). Poe was apparently fairly close to Cudworth (see his references in LTR-298, LTR-309, and LTR-319, always as “Mr. C.”), and included him in Such Friends as no. 105 (p. 23). There are no known letters to support Poe’s claim of many “engagements to write”; indeed Poe seems to have urged editors to accept his MSS, except perhaps LTR-203b (see LTR-299, LTR-300, and LTR-303). According to letters from Sarah H. Whitman to Ingram, February 20 and April 2, 1874 (Ingram Collection, University of Virginia), the Metropolitan ran for only two issues (see also the note to LTR-292). Poe’s “least price” is belied by his letter to John R. Thompson (LTR-299). No article by Poe is advertised in any issue of Godey’s in the several months prior to this letter, although it is possible that some notice appeared on the original paper wrappers. (Copies retaining these original covers are scarce.) The “something about Annie” in “Landor’s Cottage” is identified by TOM as “the description of the lady” [T&S, 2:1327 and 1342, n. 19]. Percy Ranthorpe, a novel printed in London, 1847, was by George Henry Lewes, and not Mrs. Gore. “Caddy” was Annie’s daughter (see the note to LTR-298). There appear to be few details or traces of the Gentleman’s Magazine of Cincinnati, but this sort of ephemeral publication was not uncommon at this period. Heartman & Canny (pp. 197-198) list only one copy, noting three numbers (June, July, and August, 1848) as all that were issued, commenting also that they contain “no contributions from Poe.”

Source: composite of Ingram’s two printings of the letters, from Appleton’s Journal (May 1878, pp. 425-426), and Ingram, 2:203-205, both presumably from a now lost transcript by Mrs. Richmond. The Appleton’s fragment was here used as the basic text. Brackets enclose readings from the Life text which are not found in Appleton’s. (As for LTR-298, considerable material printed in Appleton’s is not included in the Life text.) Brackets have also been used for the names of Mr. Richmond and Mr. Cudworth, which are here inserted editorially but were obscured in Ingram’s printings, with only the first initial, followed by two long dashes. (It is not unreasonable to think that Poe may have abbreviated them in the original MS.) Since the MS appears to be lost, and there is no full transcript, a complete printing is not possible. According to Ingram, the letter was undated and was sent to Annie with [page 757:] one that Poe wrote to Mrs. Whitman (see LTR-302 and notes). Consultation of the notes to the Poe-Whitman letter just cited is requisite to an understanding of various allusions in the present letter. Poe is answering a Mrs. Richmond letter, before January 21 (CL-767).

Letter 302 — 1849, ca. January 21 [CL-769] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman (Providence, RI):

Fordham Jany. 25th / 49

Dear Madam,

In commencing this letter, need I say to you, after what has passed between us, that no amount of provocation on your part, or on the part of your friends, shall induce me to speak ill of you even in my own defence? If to shield myself from calumny however undeserved, or however unendurable, I find a need of resorting to explanations that might condemn or pain you, most solemnly do I assure you, that I will patiently endure such calumny, rather than avail myself of any such means of refuting it — You will see then, that so far I am at your mercy — but in making you such assurances, have I not a right to ask of you some forbearance in return? My object in now writing you is to place before you an extract from a letter recently addressed to myself — “I will not repeat all her vile & slanderous words — you have doubtless heard them — but one thing she says that I cannot deny though I do not believe it — viz — that you had been published to her once, & that on the Sat. preceding the Sabbath on which you were to have been published for the second time, she went herself to the Rev Mr Crocker’s, & after stating her reasons for so doing, requested him to stop all further proceedings” — That you Mrs W —— have uttered, promulgated or in any way countenanced this pitiable falsehood, I do not & cannot believe — some person equally your enemy & mine has been its author — but what I beg of you is, to write me at once a few lines in explanation — you know of course that by reference either to Mr Pabodie (who at my request forbore to speak to the minister about publishing the first banns on the day I left) or, to the Rev. Mr Crocker himself, I can disprove the facts stated in the most satisfactory manner [page 758:] — but there can be no need of disproving what I feel confident was never asserted by you — Your simple disavowal is all that I wish — You will of course write me immediately on receipt of this — only in the event of my not hearing from you within a few days, will I proceed to take more definite steps —

Heaven knows that I would shrink from wounding or grieving you! I blame no one but your Mother — Mr Pabodie will tell you the words which passed between us, while from the effects of those terrible stimulants you lay prostrate without even the power to bid me farewell — Alas! I bitterly lament my own weaknesses, & nothing is farther from my heart than to blame you for yours — May Heaven shield you from all ill! So far I have assigned no reason for my declining to fulfil our engagement — I had none but the suspicious & grossly insulting parsimony of the arrangements into which you suffered yourself to be forced by your Mother — Let my letters & acts speak for themselves — It has been my intention to say simply, that our marriage was postponed on account of your ill health — Have you really said or done anything which can preclude our placing the rupture on such footing? If not, I shall persist in the statement & thus this unhappy matter will die quietly away —

E. A. Poe

Note: With the present letter, Poe’s dramatic romance with Mrs. Whitman came to an end. Regarding the quotation in this letter (from CL-767), Mrs. Richmond wrote Ingram (January 14, 1877; reprinted in Miller, BPB, p. 158) that it: “of course was written by me — not on my own account but to satisfy my friends.” Her “friends” included Mr. Richmond’s family, who lived in Providence, and who, apparently, sided with Mrs. Whitman (see the note to LTR-301). She continued: “Of course I had no other alternative, but to ... ask some explanation — Mrs. W.’s reply exonerated him completely, yet I think they were inclined to discredit it and believe him still a very unprincipled man to say the least —.” Regarding Reverend Crocker and the “banns,” see LTR-295. Poe’s attitude towards Mrs. Whitman’s mother, Anna Marsh Power, is reflected in LTR-303, where he calls her “an old devil.” About September 26 or 27, 1850, Mrs. Whitman wrote to Mrs. Hewitt: “My mother was inflexibly opposed to our union, and being in a pecuniary point of view [page 759:] entirely dependent upon her, I could not, if I would, have acted without her concurrence. Many painful scenes occurred during his several visits to Providence in consequence of this opposition” (quoted by S. T. Williams, Yale Review, 14:761-762). On March 20, 1874, Mrs. Whitman wrote to Ingram (reprinted in Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 88) that her mother was concerned about Poe’s “morbid sensitiveness,” admitting, “My mother did say more than once in his presence that my death would not be regarded by her so great an evil as my marriage under circumstances of such ominous import.” Whether Mrs. Whitman answered Poe’s request for a disavowal is uncertain. Mrs. Richmond’s note, quoted above, implies that she did, though whether made in writing or orally in Providence is open to question. In his letter of February 8, 1849, Poe tells Mrs. Richmond, “I have got no answer yet from Mrs. W....” (LTR-303). Mrs. Whitman told Ingram, “His letter I did not dare to answer” (Ingram, 2:186). For her remarks to Griswold, see notes to LTR-303. The evidence most difficult to explain away is Mrs. Richmond’s. Perhaps Mrs. Whitman did make some oral disavowal to certain persons in Providence, yet did not dare to write to Poe.

Source: text of the letter as transcribed by Annie Richmond for J. H. Ingram (Ingram Collection, University of Virginia; see her letter to Ingram, January 14, 1877). Two fragments of the original MS are known, both clipped from the full letter and pasted together, although in reversed order. These fragments are in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The first reads on the front, “[...] to the minister about publishing the first banns [...]” and on the back, “May Heaven shield you from all ill!” The second reads on the front, “Heaven knows that I would shrink from wounding or grieving you! I blame no one but your Mother.) Mr Pabodie will tell [...]” followed by a pencilled note of “you all,” presumably by Mrs. Whitman. The back reads, “[...] said or done anything which can preclude our placing the rupture on such footing? If not, I shall persist in the statement [....]” At the top of the page to which the fragments are attached is the comment, “Fragments of a letter received from Edgar Poe in the beginning of January 1849. A letter to which I never replied.” A note at the bottom of the page says “(See over”) and is initialed “J. H. I.,” showing that Mrs. Whitman sent these scraps to Ingram (confirmed by Mrs. Whitman’s March 20, 1874 letter, cited above). The rest of the original MS is probably lost. Based on the fragments, two changes have been made in Mrs. Richmond’s text: “first banns” becomes “first banns” and a new paragraph is started beginning “Heaven knows [....]” The [page 760:] period and closing parenthesis in the MS, between “Mother” and “Mr Pabodie,” have been omitted, leaving Mrs. Richmond’s dash, since the placement of the opening parenthesis is uncertain.

The dating of this letter presents a curious problem. Without the full MS, there is no evidence to prove Poe dated it “January 25, 1849,” although the only reason to question this date is the fact that it was included in the letter to Annie Richmond (LTR-301), which seems to have been written ca. January 21. Poe’s letter to John Priestley, Saturday, January 20, 1849 (LTR-300), accompanied a contribution to the American Review, and Poe’s letter to Annie Richmond says that he sent the article “yesterday.” Though Poe was not always scrupulous in the matter of dates, it is reasonable to suppose him correct in this case. Poe may have dated the letter to Mrs. Whitman ahead, under the circumstances, Mrs. Richmond copying that date correctly in her transcript for Ingram; or Poe may have entered no date, Mrs. Richmond supplying a dating for Ingram that corresponded with her posting of the letter. Therefore, since his letter to Mrs. Whitman was enclosed in that to Mrs. Richmond, its compositional date seems also to have been ca. January 21, 1849. The source from which Mrs. Richmond made her transcript for Ingram may also be a matter of curiosity. Mrs. Richmond appears to have done as Poe requested, and clearly Mrs. Whitman had the MS from which to cut the fragments she sent to Ingram. It seems likely that Mrs. Richmond had kept a copy in 1849, which may account for some of the minor differences from Poe’s original.

Letter 302a — 1849, January 31 [CL-770a] Poe (New York, NY) to John R. Thompson (Richmond, VA):

New-York — Jan: 31. 49.

Jno: R. Thompson, Esq.

My Dear Sir,

Accompanying this letter, by mail, are eleven pages of “Marginalia”, done up in a roll. Would it not be advisable to preface the series with the prefatory remarks I made use of originally — in the “Democratic Review”? They would serve to explain the character of the papers. You have the original preface in the printed pages I [page 761:] enclosed you. — Please re-enclose them when you have done with them. Should you re-print the remarks in question, it would be necessary, of course, to mention, editorially, that they were a re-print, and why you gave them. — In publishing the “Marginalia” it would be as well, in order to avoid confusion, to number the different subjects (in Arabic numerals — 1,2,3,4&c). I have made the distinction by a line drawn quite across the MS. — Should there be any of these gossiping affairs which, for any reason, you disapprove, just cut them out (whole) & preserve them for me. Publish only those which suit you entirely. The order in which they appear is immaterial. — Who is your N. Y. agent?

Truly yours,

Edgar A Poe.

Note: Five installments of Poe’s “Marginalia” appeared in the SLM in 1849, for which see the notes to LTR-299. The series did appear with the prefatory remarks, as Poe requested, plus a footnote: “Some years since Mr. Poe wrote for several of the Northern magazines a series of critical brevities under the title of ‘Marginalia.’ They attracted great attention at that time and since, as characteristic of the author, and we are sure that our readers will be gratified at his resuming them in the Messenger. By way of introduction, we republish the original preface from the Democratic Review. Ed. Mess.” The front paper wrapper of the SLM issue for December 1849 lists Dewitt & Davenport as the New York agents. The first of these gentlemen may be the same as “B. M. Dewitt,” noted on the inside cover as one of several persons “authorised to procure New Subscribers for the Messenger.” Poe has presumably inquired about agents in New York as the route for his receiving payment.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address, on a separate leaf, reads: “Jno: R. Thompson Esq. / Editor of ‘The South: Lit: Messenger’, / Richmond, / Va:,” with the initials “EAP” in a lower corner. The postmark is dated Feb. 1, 1849. Accompanying this MS is a typed letter from Gordon T. Banks of Goodspeed’s Book Shop in Boston, noting that the letter and two pages of MS from the SLM article on Mrs. Osgood were purchased from a Boston family. It is reasonable to presume, therefore, that Thompson sent both items to Griswold in response to their [page 762:] correspondence of 1849. (What was LTR-302a in The Letters [1966] has been renumbered as LTR-302b to allow for the insertion of the present letter while retaining the chronological sequence.)

 


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Notes:

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 686.


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[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Chapter 10)