Text: John Ward Ostrom, “Letters: Chapter II,” The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (1966), pp. 51-107 (This material is protected by copyright)


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May 1833 - January 1837

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37 ⇒ TO JOSEPH T. AND EDWIN BUCKINGHAM [May 4, 1833] [CL-72]

Baltimore May 4th 1833


I send you an original tale in hope of your accepting it for the N. E. Magazine. It is one of a number of similar pieces which I have contemplated publishing under the title of ‘Eleven Tales of the Arabesque’. They are supposed to be read at table by the eleven members of a literary club, and are followed by the remarks of the company upon each. These remarks are intended as a burlesque upon criticism. In the whole, originality more than any thing else has been attempted. I have said this much with a view of offering you the entire M.S. If you like the specimen which I have sent I will forward the rest at your suggestion — but if you decide upon publishing all the tales, it would not be proper to print the one I now send until it can be printed in its place with the others. It is however optional with you either to accept them all, or publish ‘Epimanes’ and reject the rest — if indeed you do not reject them altogether.

Very resply

Yr Obt St

Edgar Allan Poe

Messrs Buckingham.

Please reply by letter as I have few opportunities of seeing your Magazine.

[Here appears the text of “Epimanes,” running to page 4.]

P.S. I am poor.

The New-England Magazine was founded by Joseph T. Buckingham and his son, Edwin; its first issue was July 1831; its last, December 1835; it offered $1 a page for contributions (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 599-600). “Epimanes,” one of the tales of the Folio Club, was first printed in the SLM, II (March 1836), 235-238 (see Wyllie, Poe's Tales, p. 327). If the Messrs. Buckingham replied by letter, in returning the MS., its location is unknown. For supplemental [page 54:] discussions of Poe's tales of the Folio Club, see James Southall Wilson's “The Devil Was in It,” American Mercury, XXIV (October 1931), 214-220; also Quinn, Poe, pp. 745-746.

38 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [ca. Nov. 19, 1834] [CL-73]

Balto: Nov: [ca. 19] 1834.

Dr Sir,

I have a favour to beg of you which I thought it better to ask in writing, because, sincerely, I had not courage to ask it in person. I am indeed too well aware that I have no claim whatever to your attention, and that even the manner of my introduction to your notice was, at the best, equivocal.

Since the day you first saw me my situation in life has altered materially. At that time I looked forward to the inheritance of a large fortune, and, in the meantime, was in receipt of an annuity sufficient for my support. This was allowed me by a gentleman of Virginia (Mr Jno Allan) who adopted me at the age of two years, (both my parents being dead) and who, until lately, always treated me with the affection of a father. But a second marriage on his part, and I dare say many follies on my own at length ended in a quarrel between us. He is now dead, and has left me nothing. I am thrown entirely upon my own resources with no profession, and very few friends. Worse than all this, I am at length penniless. Indeed no circumstances less urgent would have induced me to risk your friendship by troubling you with my distresses. But I could not help thinking that if my situation was stated — as you could state it — to Carey & Lea, they might be led to aid me with a small sum in consideration of my M.S. now in their hands. This would relieve my immediate wants, and I could then look forward more confidently to better days. At all events receive assurance of my gratitude for what you have already done.

Most respy

Yr Obt St

Edgar Allan Poe

Jno. P. Kennedy Esqr

The present letter and that of December 19, 1834, both to Kennedy, are the only known letters by Poe between May 4, 1833, and January 21, 1835, a period in Poe's life about which very little is known. He was probably living at 203 North Amity Street with his aunt Maria Clemm, [page 55:] with whom also lived his grandmother, Mrs. David Poe, and his cousin, Virginia. Mrs. Clemm is first identified as living there in the spring of 1833, by the Baltimore City Directory of that year (there was no Directory for 1832); and according to a notice in the Baltimore American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, July 7, 1835, Mrs. David Poe died there (for this information, as well as fuller account, see May G. Evans, “Poe in Amity Street,” Maryland Historical Magazine, XXXVI (December 1941), 363-380). Poe's first contacts with Kennedy came with his participation in and winning of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter contest, announced June 15, and closed October 1, the winners being published October 12, 1833; Kennedy, John H. B. Latrobe, and Dr. James H. Miller were the judges (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 201-202). Of course, Poe received no annuity “sufficient for my support” from John Allan. Whether David Poe, Jr., died before or after Poe's “adoption” by John Allan is unknown. The Poe-Allan correspondence hardly supports Poe's statement that Allan “always treated me with the affection of a father”; Allan died March 27, 1834, and left Poe penniless. Concerning Carey and Lea in whose hands were Poe's tales submitted previously for the Saturday Visiter prize, see Kennedy to Poe, December 22, 1834 (H, XVII, 3); see also, Kennedy's note, printed with the present letter by H, I, 2 (though the note does not appear on the original MS. letter). [CL 73]

** [[1964 supplement note addition]] **

39 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [December 19, 1834] [CL-74]

Balt. Dec. 19 / 34

Dr Sir,

About four weeks ago I sent you a note respecting my Tales of the F. Club, and matters have since occurred to me that make me doubt whether you have recd. it. You would confer upon me the greatest favour by dropping a few words for me in the P.O.

Very respy

Edgar Allan Poe

Jno. P. Kennedy, Esqr.

In connection with this letter, see Letter 38. Kennedy's reply is dated December 22, 1834 (see H, XVII, 3). Poe's Tales of the Folio Club was submitted in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter contest, one tale of which, “The Manuscript Found in a Bottle,” won the prize; the series at the time of the contest comprised six tales (see the announcement by the judges, reprinted in Quinn, Poe, pp. 202-203). Poe, at Kennedy's suggestion (see H, I, 2, n.; and Kennedy to Poe, H, XVII, 3), submitted the tales to Carey and Lea for publication. Though Carey was willing to publish them, he advised Poe, through Kennedy, first to sell them individually [page 56:] to the annuals, and was actually successful in selling one to Miss Leslie for the Atlantic Souvenir, according to Kennedy (but the Souvenir had merged with the Token in 1832 — see Quinn, Poe, p. 204, n.); however neither annual nor Carey and Lea published Poe's work at this time. The fifteen dollars received by Carey for the tale and forwarded to Kennedy, was undoubtedly called for by Poe (see Kennedy's December letter, cited above). [CL 74]

40 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [March 15, 1835] [CL-76]


Sunday — 15th March. [1835]

Dr Sir,

In the paper which will be handed you with this note is an advertisement to which I most anxiously solicit your attention. It relates to the appointment of a teacher in a Public School, and I have marked it with a cross so that you may readily perceive it. In my present circumstances such a situation would be most desirable, and if your interest could obtain it for me I would always remember your kindness with the deepest gratitude.

Have I any hope? Your reply to this would greatly oblige. The 18th is fixed on for the decision of the commissioners, and the advertisement has only this moment caught my eye. This will excuse my obtruding the matter on your attention to day.

Very respy

E A Poe

The present letter undoubtedly led to Kennedy's invitation to Poe to come to dinner (Kennedy to Poe, Sunday, March 15, 1835, unlocated) and Poe's subsequent note of Sunday, 15th [March, 1835]. Whether Kennedy recommended Poe is unknown; a search of the Baltimore Patriot following the close of applications revealed no announcement of an appointment. [CL 76]



Dr Sir,

Your kind invitation to dinner to day has wounded me to the quick. I cannot come — and for reasons of the most humiliating nature <in> my personal appearance. You may conceive my deep [page 57:] mortification in making this disclosure to you — but it was necessary. If you will be my friend so far as to loan me $20 I will call on you to morrow — otherwise it will be impossible, and I must submit to my fate.

Sincerely, Yours

E A Poe

J. P. Kennedy Esqr

Sunday, 15th

For Kennedy's own word about assisting Poe in Baltimore, see Quinn, Poe, p. 208; for Poe's statement, see Letter 118. [CL 78]

42 ⇒ TO THOMAS W. WHITE [April 30, 1835] [CL-80]

[Baltimore, April 30, 1831]

[I noticed the allusion in the Doom. The writer seems to compare my swim with that of Lord Byron, whereas there can be no comparison between them. Any swimmer “in the falls” in my days, would have swum the Hellespont, and thought nothing of the matter. I swam from Ludlam's wharf to Warwick, (six miles,) in a hot June sun, against one of the strongest tides ever known in the river. It would have been a feat comparatively easy to swim twenty miles in still water. I would not think much of attempting to swim the British Channel from Dover to Calais ... ] [... ] to what you said concerning [MS. torn off ]

A word or two in relation to Berenice. Your opinion of it is very just. The subject is by far too horrible, and I confess that I hesitated in sending it you especially as a specimen of my capabilities. The Tale originated in a bet that I could produce nothing effective on a subject so singular, provided I treated it seriously. But what I wish to say relates to the character of your Magazine more than to any articles I may offer, and I beg you to believe that I have no intention of giving you advice, being fully confident that, upon consideration, you will agree with me. The history of all Magazines shows plainly that those which have attained celebrity were indebted for it to articles similar in natureto Berenice — although, I grant you, far superior in style and execution. I say similar in nature. You ask me in what does this nature consist? In the ludicrous heightened into the grotesque: [page 58:] the fearful coloured into the horrible: the witty exaggerated into the burlesque: the singular wrought out into the strange and mystical. You may say all this is bad taste. I have my doubts about it. Nobody is more aware than I am that simplicity is the cant of the day — but take my word for it no one cares any thing about simplicity in their hearts. Believe me also, in spite of what people say to the contrary, that there is nothing easier in the world than to be extremely simple. But whether the articles of which I speak are, or are not in bad taste is little to the purpose. To be appreciated you must be read, and these things are invariably sought after with avidity. They are, if you will take notice, the articles which find their way into other periodicals, and into the papers, and in this manner, taking hold upon the public mind they augment the reputation of the source where they originated. Such articles are the “M.S. found in a Madhouse” and the “Monos and Daimonos” of the London New Monthly — the “Confessions of an Opium-Eater” and the “Man in the Bell” of Blackwood. The two first were written by no less a man than Bulwer — the Confessions [illegible] universally attributed to Coleridge — although unjustly. Thus the first men in [England] have not thought writings of this nature unworthy of their talents, and I have go[od] reason to believe that some very high names valued themselves principally upon this species of literature. To be sure originality is an essential in these things — great attention must be paid to style, and much labour spent in their composition, or they will degenerate into the tugid or the absurd. If I am not mistaken you will find Mr Kennedy, whose writings you admire, and whose Swallow-Barn is unrivalled for purity of style and thought of my opinion in this matter. It is unnecessary for you to pay much attention to the many who will no doubt favour you with their critiques. In respect to Berenice individually I allow that it approaches the very verge of bad taste — but I will not sin quite so egregiously again. I propose to furnish you every month with a Tale of the nature which I have alluded to. The effect — if any — will be estimated better by the circulation of the Magazine than by any comments upon its contents. This much, however, it is necessary to premise, that no two of these Tales will have the slightest resemblance one to the other either in matter or manner — still however preserving the character which I speak of.

Mrs Butler's book will be out on the 1rst. A life of Cicero is in press [page 59:] by Jno Stricker of this city — also a life of Franklin by Jared Sparks, Boston. — also Willis’ Poems, and a novel by Dr Bird.

Yours sincerely

Edgar A Poe

The bracketed first paragraph has been inserted by the editor from the SLM, I (May 1835), 468 (see Note 42). “Mrs. Butler's book” refers to Fanny Kemble Butler's Journal (Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1835), reviewed by Poe in SLM, I (May 1835), 524-531. Jared Sparks was professor of history at Harvard; see also Poe's “Autography” in H, xv, 214, and Letter 63. N. P. Willis published Melanie and Other Poems in 1835. Dr. Robert M. Bird's The Infidel (Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1835) was reviewed by Poe in SLM, I (June 1835), 582-585. [CL 80]

43 ⇒ TO THOMAS W. WHITE [May 30, 1835] [CL-84]

Baltimore, May 30, 1835.

Mr T. W. White

Dr Sir,

I duly recd, through Mr Kennedy your favour of the loth enclosing $5: and an order for $4.94. I assure you it was very welcome. Miscarriages of double letters are by no means unfrequent just now, but yours, at least, came safely to hand. Had I reflected a moment I should have acknowledged the rect before. I suppose you have heard about Wm Gwynn Jones of this place, late Editor of the Gazette. He was detected in purloining letters from the Office to which the Clerks were in the habit of admitting him familiarly. He acknowledged the theft of more than $2000 in this way at different times. He probably took even more than that, and I am quite sure that on the part of the Clerks themselves advantage was taken of his arrest to embezzle double that sum. I have been a loser myself to a small amount.

I have not seen Mr Kennedy for some days, having been too unwell to go abroad. When I saw him last he assured me his book would reach Richd in time for your next number, and under this assurance, I thought it useless to make such extracts from the book as I wished — thinking you could please yourself in this matter. I cannot imagine what delays its publication, for it has been for some time ready for issue. In regard to my critique I seriously feel ashamed of what I have written. I fully intended to have given the work a thorough review, [page 60:] and examine it in detail. Ill health alone prevented me from so doing. At the time I wrote the hasty sketch [page 2] I sent you I was so ill as to be hardly able to see the paper on which I wrote, and finished in a state of complete exhaustion. I have therefore, not done any thing like justice to the book, and I am vexed about the matter, for Mr K has proved himself a kind friend to me in every respect, and I am sincerely grateful to him for many acts of generosity and attention.

I read the article in the Compiler relating to the “Confessions of a Poet” but there is no necessity of giving it a reply. The book is silly enough of itself, without the aid of any controversy concerning it. In your private ear however I may say a word or two. The writer “I” founds his opinion that I have not read the book simply upon one fact — that I disagree with him concerning it. I have looked over his article two or three times attentively and can see no other reason adduced by him. If this is a good reason. one way it is equally good another — ergo — He has not read the book because he disagrees with me — Neither of us having read it then, it is better to say no more about it.

But seriously — I have read it from beginning to end and was very much amused at it. My opinion concerning it is pretty much the opinion of the press at large. I have heard no person offer one serious word in its defence.

My notice of your Messenger in the Republican was I am afraid too brief for your views. But I could command no greater space in its editorial columns. I have often wondered at your preferring to insert such notices in the Republican. It is a paper by no means in the hands of the first people here. Would not the American suit as well? Its columns are equally at your service. Did you notice the alteration I made in [page 3] the name of the authoress of the lines in reply to Mr Wilde? They were written by Mrs Dr Buckler of this city — not Buckley.

You ask me if I am perfectly satisfied with your course. I reply that I am — entirely. My poor services are not worth what you give me for them.

The high compliment of judge Tucker is rendered doubly flattering to me by my knowledge of his literary character.

Very sincerely yours.

Edgar A Poe [page 61:]

Poe probably received 80 cents per column, and $9.94 was payment in full for contributions to the May SLM (see Hull, p. 21). William Gwynn was the editor of the Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (see Letter 31); William Gwynn Jones was a boy whom the bachelor editor took into his home. “The boy did not appreciate his opportunities and robbed the city post office,” according to Florence Belle Ogg, a kinswoman of William Gwynn, in a letter to James Southall Wilson. Kennedy's Horse-Shoe Robinson was reviewed by Poe in the SLM, I (May 1835), 522-524, prior to its publication. Poe noticed the April 1835 issue of the SLM in the Baltimore Republican and Commercial Advertiser, May 14, 1835 (see David K. Jackson, Modern Language Notes, L (1935), 251-256). Eliza Sloan Buckler, wife of Poe's Baltimore physician, published a poem entitled “Answer” in the SLM, I (April 1835), 452, in reply to Richard Henry Wilde's “My Life Is Like the Summer Rose,” in the SLM, I (August 1834), 13 (see Jackson, MLN, L (1935), 2.51). Nathaniel Beverley Tucker was Professor of Law at William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia, and published George Balcombe (1836) and The Partisan Leader (1836); he was born in 1784 and died in 1851. Poe reviewed Laughton Osborn's Confessions of a Poet in the SLM, I (April 1835), 459 (see also Letter 206 and notes).

44 ⇒ TO THOMAS W. WHITE [June 12, 1835] [CL-86]

Bal: June 12th 1835

Mr T. W, White.

My Dear Sir.

I take the opportunity of sending this M.S. by private hand. Your letter of June 8th I recd yesterday morning together with the Magazines. In reply to your kind enquiries after my health I am glad to say that I have entirely recovered — although Dr Buckler, no longer than 3 weeks ago, assured me that nothing but a sea-voyage would save me. I will do my best to please you in relation to Marshall's Washington if you will send it on. By what time would you wish the M.S. of the Review?

I suppose you have recd Mr Calverts’ communication. He will prove a valuable correspondent. I will send you on The American & Republican as soon as the critiques come out. What I can do farther to aid the circulation of your Magazine I will gladly do — but I must [page 62:] insist on your not sending me any remuneration for services of this nature. They are a pleasure to me & no trouble whatever.

Very sincerely

Edgar A Poe

I congratulate you upon obtaining the services of Mr S. He has a high reputation for talent.

Poe's Baltimore physician seems to have been Dr. Buckler, whose wife had contributed to the SLM, in April 18 (see Letter 43). Poe wrote the review of Marshall's Washington, but White did not print it (see Letter 46). George H. Calvert, of Baltimore, was author of “German Literature” (SLM, II (May 1836), 373-380) and a scene from Arnold and Andre (SLM, I (June 1835), 555-557), to which the above “communication” may have reference. According to David K. Jackson (Modern Language Notes, L (1935), 253), Poe's notices of the SLM for May 1835, appeared in the Baltimore American, June 15, 1835, and in the Baltimore Republican, June 13, 1835 (see also, T. O. Mabbott, Modern Language Notes, XXXV (1920), 374). “Mr. S.” was Edward V. Sparhawk, announced as editor of the SLM in the May issue (I, 461). [CL 86]

45 ⇒ TO THOMAS W. WHITE [June 22, 1835] [CL-88]

Balt: June 22d 1835

My Dear Sir,

I recd your letter of the 18th yesterday, and this morning your reprint of the Messenger No 3. While I entirely agree with you, and with many of your correspondents, in your opinion of this number (it being in fact one of the very best issued) I cannot help entertaining a doubt whether it would be of any advantage to you to have the public attention called to this its second appearance by any detailed notice in the papers. There would be an air of irregularity about it — as the first edition was issued so long ago — which might even have a prejudicial effect. For indeed the veriest trifles — the mere semblance of any thing unusual or outré — will frequently have a pernicious influence in cases similar to this; and you must be aware that of all the delicate things in the world the character of a young Periodical is the most easily injured. Besides it is undeniable that the public will [page 63:] not think of judging you by the appearance, or the merit of your Magazine in November. Its present character, whether that be good or bad, is all that will influence them. I would therefore look zealously to the future, letting the past take care of itself. Adopting this view of the case, I thought it best to delay doing any thing until I should hear farther from you — being fully assured that a little reflection will enable you to see the matter in the same light as myself. One important objection to what you proposed is the insuperable dislike entertained by the Daily Editors to notice any but the most recent publications. And although I dare say that I could, if you insist upon it, overcome this aversion in the present case, still it would be trifling to no purpose with your interest in that quarter. If however you disagree with me in these opinions I will undoubtedly (upon hearing from you) do as you desire. Of course the remarks I now make will equally apply to any other of the back numbers.

Many of the Contributors to No 3 are familiarly known to me — most of them I have seen occasionally. Charles B. Shaw the author of the Alleghany Levels is an old acquaintance, and a most estimable and talented man. I cannot say with truth that I had any knowledge of your son. I read the Lines to his memory in No 9 and was much struck with an air of tenderness and unaffected simplicity which pervades them. The verses immediately following, and from the same pen, give evidence of fine poetic feeling in the writer.

I will pay especial attention to what you suggested in relation to the punctuation &c of my future M.S.S.

[page 2] You ask me if I would be willing to come on to Richmond if you should have occasion for my services during the coming winter. I reply that nothing would give me greater pleasure. I have been desirous, for some time past, of paying a visit to Richmond, and would be glad of any reasonable excuse for so doing. Indeed I am anxious to settle myself in that city, and if, by any chance, you hear of a situation likely to suit me, I would gladly accept it, were the salary even the merest trifle. I should indeed feel myself greatly indebted to you, if through your means, I could accomplish this object. What you say, in the conclusion of your letter, in relation to the supervision of proof-sheets, gives me reason to hope that possibly you might find something for me to do in your office. If so I should be very glad for at present a very small portion of my time is employed. [page 64:]

Immediately after putting my last letter to you in the P. O. I called upon Mr Wood as you desired — but the Magazine was then completed.

Very sincerely yours.

Edgar A Poe

I have heard it suggested that a lighter-faced type in the headings of your various articles would improve the appearance of the Messenger. Do you not think so likewise? Who is the author of the Doom?

No. 3 of the SLM had been published in November (though delayed), 1834 (see David K. Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, p. 30). No. 9 (May 1835) printed Eliza Gookin Thornton's verses in memory of White's son, Thomas H., who had died on October 7, 1832; the verses (SLM, pp. 491-492) were signed “Eliza of Saco, Maine” (see Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, p. 18). White's complaint about Poe's careless punctuation probably has reference to a MS. criticism; originals for Poe's SLM criticisms do not seem to exist and collation is therefore impossible. Poe's earliest letters show an erratic punctuation, as do his poems of 1827; but the pointing of the letters improved, especially when he chose to be careful, and in 1845 while preparing the 1829 “Al Aaraaf” for inclusion in The Raven and Other Poems, he made only a few changes not involving words (on authority of T. O. Mabbott; see also his edition of “Al Aaraaf” (1933), and the 1845 “Raven” (1942), for the Facsimile Text Society). As time went on, Poe became increasingly careful of his punctuation of his tales, though the pointing often was more rhetorical than logical. Poe joined White in late July or early August 18 (see the note to Letter 49) — Mr. Wood is probably John W. Woods, a Baltimore publisher (see H, ix, 15 8). “The Doom” appeared in SLM, I (January 1835), 235-240, and was signed “Benedict.” White changed his font of type for the issue (Vol. II) of December 1835 (see White to Minor, September 8, 1835 in Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 98-99 see also Jackson, p. 59).

46 ⇒ TO THOMAS W. WHITE [July 20, 1835] [CL-91]

Baltimore, July 20. 1835

My Dear Sir,

I duly recd both your letters (July 14th & 16th) together with the $20. I am indeed grieved to hear that your health has not been improved [page 65:] by your trip — I agree with you in thinking that too close attention to business has been instrumental in causing your sickness.

I saw the Martinsburg Gazette by accident at Mr Kennedy's — but he is now out of town, and will not be back till the fall, and I know not where to procure a copy of the paper. It merely spoke of the Messenger in general terms of commendation. Have you seen the “Young Man's Paper” — and the N. Y. Evening Star?

As might be supposed I am highly gratified with Mr Pleasants’ notice and especially with Paulding's. What Mr Pleasants says in relation to the commencement of Hans Phaal is judicious. That part of the Tale is faulty indeed — so much so that I had often thought of remodelling it entirely. I will take care & have the Letter inserted in all the Baltimore papers.

Herewith I send you a Baltimore Visiter of October 12th 1833. It contains a highly complimentary letter from Mr Kennedy, Mr Latrobe, and Dr Miller of Baltimore in relation to myself. The Tales of the Folio Club have only been partially published as yet. Lionizing was one of them. If you could in any manner contrive to have this letter copied into any of the Richmond Papers it would greatly advance a particular object which I have in view. If you could find an excuse for printing it in the Messenger it would be still better. You might observe that as many contradictory opinions had been formed in relation to my Tales & especially to Lionizing, you took the liberty of copying the Letter of the Baltimore Committee. One fact I would wish particularly noticed. The Visiter offered two Premiums — one for the best Tale & one for the best Poem — both of which were awarded to me. The award was, however, altered and the Premium for Poetry awarded to the second best in consideration of my having obtained the higher Prize. This Mr Kennedy & Mr Latrobe told me themselves. I know you will do me this favour if you can — the manner of doing it I leave altogether to yourself.

[page 2] I have taken much pains to procure you the Ink. Only one person in Baltimore had it — and he not for sale. As a great favour I obtained a pound at the price of $1.50. It is mixed with Linseed oil prepared after a particular fashion which renders it expensive. I shall go down to the Steamboat as soon as I finish this letter. and if I get an opportunity of sending it I will do so.

It gives me the greatest pain to hear that my Review will not appear in no 11. I cannot imagine what circumstances y[ou] allude [page 66:] to as preventing you from publishing. The Death of the Chief justice, so far from rendering the Review useless <wa> is the very thing to attract public notice to the Article. I really wish you would consider this matter more maturely and if possible insert it in No 11.

Look over Hans Phaal, and the Literary Notices by me in No 10, and see if you have not miscalculated the sum due me. There are 34 columns in all. Hans Phaal cost me nearly a fortnights hard labour and was written especially for the Messenger. I will not however sin so egregiously again in sending you a long article. I will confine myself to 3 or 4 pages.

Very sincerely yours.

Edgar A. Poe

The Visiter cited carried the announcement of a prize of fifty dollars awarded Poe for the “MS. Found in a Bottle,” and, in addition, high praises by the judges of its merit; Poe's request that the letter be reprinted was granted by White in SLM, I (August 1835), 716. John H. Hewitt, editor of the Visiter, won the poetry award with “Song of the Winds” over the pseudonym of Henry Wilton (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 202-203). Poe's review of Marshall's Washington was not inserted in Number 11. “34 columns in all” was based on “Hans Phaal” (31 columns), a review of The Infidel (nearly seven with quoted portions), and possibly other contributions (see Hull, p. 50). Poe's tales of the Folio Club which were published by this date were: “The Assignation,” “Berenice,” “Bon-Bon,” “Due de L’Omelette,” “Lionizing,” “Loss of Breath,” “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “Metzengerstein,” and “A Tale of Jerusalem.”

47 ⇒ TO WILLIAM POE [August 20, 1835] [CL-93]

Richmond Aug: 20, 1835

Dear Sir,

I received your very kind and complimentary letter only a few minutes ago, and hasten to reply.

I have been long aware that a connexion existed between us — without knowing precisely in what manner. Your letter however has satisfied me that we are second cousins. I will briefly relate to you what little I have been able to ascertain, or rather to remember, in relation to our families. That I know but little on this head will not appear so singular to you when I relate the circumstances connected with my [page 67:] own particular history. But to return. My paternal grandfather was Gen: David Poe of Baltimore — originally of Ireland. I know that he had brothers — two I believe. But my knowledge extends only to one, Mr George Poe. My grandfather married, when very young, a Miss Elizabeth Carnes of Lancaster, Pa, by whom he had 5 sons — viz: George (who died while an infant) John, William, David, and Samuel: also two daughters Maria and Eliza. Of the sons none married with the exception of David. He married a Mrs Elizabeth Hopkins, an English lady, by whom he had 3 children, Henry, myself, and Rosalie. Henry died about 4 years ago — Rosalie and myself remain. The daughters of Gen: David Poe, Maria, and Eliza, both married young. Maria married Mr Wm Clemm, a gentleman of high standing and some property in Baltimore. He was a widower with 5 children — and had, after his marriage to Maria Poe 3 others — viz: 2 girls and a boy, of which a girl Virginia, and a boy Henry are still living. Mr Clemm died about 9 years ago without any property whatever, leaving his widow desolate, and unprotected, and little likely to receive protection or assistance from the relatives of her husband — most of whom were opposed to the marriage in the first instances — and whose opposition was no doubt aggravated by the petty quarrels frequently occurring between Maria's children, and Mr Cs children by his former wife. This Maria is the one of whom you speak, and to whom I will allude again presently. Eliza the second daughter of the General, married a Mr Henry Herring of Baltimore, a man of unprincipled character, and by whom she ha[d sever]al children. She is now dead, and Mr Herring, having married ag[ain ... ] communication with the family of his <sisters> wife's sister. Mrs [Eliza Poe] the widow of General D. Poe, and the mother of Maria, died on[ly 6 week]s ago, at the age of 79. She had for the last 8 years of her life been [confine]d entirely to bed — never, i[n] any instance, leaving it during that time. She [h]ad been paralyzed, and suffered from many other complaints — her daughter Maria attending her during her long & tedious illness with a Christian and martyr-like fortitude, and with a constancy of attention, and unremitting affection, which must exalt her character in the eyes of all who know her. Maria is now the only survivor of my grandfather's family.

In relation to my grandfather's brother George I know but little. Jacob Poe of Frederich town, Maryland, is his son — also George Poe of Mobile — and I presume your father Wm Poe. G Jacob Poe has [page 68:] two sons Neilson, and George — also one [page 2] daughter Amelia.

My father David died when I was in the second year of my age, and when my sister Rosalie was an infant in arms. Our mother died a few weeks before him. Thus we were left orphans at an age when the hand of a parent is so peculiarly requisite. At this period my grandfather's circumstances were at a low ebb, he from great wealth having been reduced to poverty. It was therefore in his power to do little for us. My brother Henry he took however under his charge, while myself and Rosalie were adopted by gentlemen in Richmond, where we were at the period of our parents’ death. I was adopted by Mr Jno Allan of Richmond, Va: and she by Mr Wm McKenzie of the same place. Rosalie is still living at Mrs McKs still unmarried, and is treated as one of the family, being a favourite with all. I accompanied Mr Allan to England in my 7th year, and remained there at school 5 years since which I resided with Mr A. until a few years ago. The first Mrs A. having died, and Mr A having married again I found my situation not so comfortable as before, and obtained a Cadet's appointment at W. Point. During my stay there Mr A died suddenly, and left me — nothing. No will was found among his papers. I have accordingly been thrown entirely upon my own resources. Brought up to no profession, and educated in the expectation of an immense fortune (Mr A having been worth $750,000) the blow has been a heavy one, and I had nearly succumbed to its influence, and yielded to despair. But by the exertion of much resolution I am now beginning to look upon the matter in a less serious light, and although struggling still with many embarrassments, am enabled to keep up my spirits. I have lately obtained the Editorship of the Southern Messenger, and may probably yet do well.

Mrs Thompson, your aunt, is still living in Baltimore. George Poe of Baltimore allows her a small income.

In conclusion, I beg leave to assure you that whatever aid you may have it in your power to bestow upon Mrs Clemm will be given to one who well deserves every kindness and attention. Would to God! that I could at this moment aid her. She is now, whi[le] I write, struggling without friends, without money, and without health to support [herself ] and 2 children. I sincerely pray God that the words which I am [writing] may be the means of inducing you to unite wit[h] your brothers a[nd ... fri]ends, and send her that immediate relief wh[ich] it is utterly out of [my p]ower to give her just now, and [page 69:] which, unless it reach her soon will, [I] am afraid, reach her too late. Entreating your attention to this subject I remain

Yours very truly & affectionately

Edgar A. Poe

It would give me the greatest pleasure to hear from you in reply.

To Mr Wm Poe

In connection with this letter and the family tree, see Mrs. Clemm to William Poe, October 7, 1835, in H, XVII, 379-381 (under the wrong date of 1836: see Quinn, Poe, p. 230, n. 16); see also, Quinn, Poe, pp. 16-17. The death-date of Edgar's father, David Poe, is unknown (see Quinn, Poe, p. 44); his mother died December 8, 1811 (Quinn, Poe, p. 45). Edgar went with the Allans to England in June 1815. Poe went to West Point before, not after, John Allan married for the second time; and Mr. Allan died, March 27, 1834 (see the notes to Letter 36), three years after Poe left West Point (see Letter 29). Poe joined the Southern Literary Messenger sometime between his letter to White, July 20, and White's letter to Minor, August 18, 1835 (see Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 97-98). William Poe answered Poe's letter, about October 2-4, 1835 (see Mrs. Clemm's letter to William Poe, October 7, 1835, cited above). [CL 93]

48 ⇒ TO MARIA CLEMM [August 29, 1835] [CL-97]

Aug: 29th

My dearest Aunty,

I am blinded with tears while writing thi[s] letter — I have no wish to live another hour. Amid sorrow, [MS. torn] and the deepest anxiety your letter reached — and you well know how little I am able to bear up under the pressure of grief. My bitterest enemy would pity me could he now read my heart — My last my last my only hold on life is cruelly torn away — I have no desire to live and will not. But let my duty be done. I love, you know I love Virginia passionately devotedly. I cannot express in words the fervent devotion I feel towards my dear little cousin — my own darling. But what can [I] say; Oh think for me for I am incapable of thinking. Al[l my] thoughts are occupied with the supposition that both you & she will prefer to go with N. Poe; I do sincerely believe that your comforts will for the present be secured — I cannot speak as regards your peace — your [page 70:] happiness. You have both tender hearts — and you will always have the reflection that my agony is more than I can bear — that you have driven me to the grave — for love like mine can never be gotten over. It is useless to disguise the truth that when Virginia goes with N. P. that I shall never behold her again — that is absolutely sure. Pity me, my dear Aunty, pity me. I have no one now to fly to — I am among strangers, and my wretchedness is more than I can bear. It is useless to expect advice from me — what can I say? — Can I, in honour & in truth say — Virginia! do not go! — do not go where you can be comfortable & perhaps happy-and on the other hand can I calmly resign my — life itself. If she had truly loved me would she not have rejected th offer with scorn? Oh God have mercy on me! [page 2] If she goes with N. P. what are you to do, my own Aunty,?

I had procured a sweet little house in a retired situation on [ch]urch hill — newly done up and with a large garden and [eve]ry convenience — at only $5 per month. I have been dreaming [MS. torn] every day & night since of the rapture I should feel in [havi]ng my only frieids — all I love on Earth with me there, [and] the pride I would take in making you both comfor[table] & in calling her my wife — But the dream is over[.] [Oh G]od have mercy on me. What have I to live for? Among strangers with not one soul to love me.

The situation has this morning been conferred upon another. Branch T. Saunders. but White has engaged to make my salary $60 a month, and we could live in comparative comfort & happiness — even the $4 a week I am now paying for board would support us all — but I shall have $15 a week. & what need would we have of more? I had thought to send you on a little money every week until you could either hear from Hall or Wm Poe, and then we could get a [little] furniture for a start — for White will not be able [to a]dvance any. After that all would go well — or I would make a desperate exertion & try to borrow enough for that purpose. There is little danger of the house being taken immediately.

I would send you on $5 now — for White paid me the $8 2 days since — but you appear not to have received my last letter and I am afraid to trust it to the mail, as the letters are continually robbed. I have it for you & will keep it until I hear from you when I will send it & more if I get an[y] in the meantime. I wrote you that Wm Poe had written to me concerning you & has offered to assist you asking [page 71:] me questions concerning you which I answered. He will beyond doubt aid you shortly & with an effectual aid. Trust in God.

The tone of your letter wounds me to the soul — Oh Aunty, Aunty you loved me once-how can you be so cruel now? You speak of Virginia acquiring accomplishments, and entering into [page 3] society — you speak <also of> in so worldly a tone. Are you sure she would be more happy. Do you think any one could love her more dearly than I? She will have far — very far better opportunites of entering into society here than with N. P. Every one here receives me with open arms.

Adieu my dear Aunty. I cannot advise you. Ask Virginia. Leave it to her. Let me have, under her own hand, a letter, bidding me good bye — forever — and I [m]ay die — my heart will break — but I will say no more.


Kiss her for me — a million times[.]

For Virginia,

My love, my own sweetest Sissy, my darling little wifey, thi[nk w]ell before you break the heart of your cousin. Eddy.

I open this letter to inclose the 5$ — I have just received another letter from you announcing the rect of mine. My heart bleeds for you. Dearest Aunty consider my happiness while you are thinking about your own. I am saving all I can. The only money I have yet spent is 50 cts for washing — I have now 2,25. left. I will shortly send you more, Write immediately. I shall be all anxiety & dread until I hear from you. Try and convince my dear Virga how devotedly I love her. I wish you would get me th Republican wh: noticed the Messenger & send it on immediately by mail. God bless & protect you both.

N. Poe and N.P. refer to Neilson Poe, of Baltimore, seven months younger than Poe (see Quinn, Poe, p. 725), who had married Josephine Clemm, Virginia's half-sister (see Quinn, Poe, p. 219). His daughter, Amelia Poe, in a letter to J. H. Ingram (Ingram collection, University of Virginia), dated March 27, 1912, says that her father would not permit the above letter to be published. William Poe, of Augusta, Georgia, was Mrs. Clemm's first cousin. Poe's letter is carelessly written and shows his extreme agitation. Buried in it is what might be called the only extant letter from him to Virginia, other than, Letter 232. [CL 97] [page 72:]

49 ⇒ TO JOHN NEAL [September 4, 1835] [CL-98]

Richmond, Va. Sep. 4. 1835.

My Dear Sir,

Herewith I send a number of the Southern Literary Messenger, a Magazine of which I have lately obtained the Editorship. Do you think you could send me regularly in exchange, The Galaxy or any other paper of wh: you have the control? I should be extremely glad to hear from you, altho’ I suppose you have almost forgotten our former correspondence. When you reply to this I will write you more fully — for I have much to tell you.

Very truly & respectfully Yours

Edgar A. Poe

John Neal.

Between July 20, 1835, when Poe wrote Thomas W. White from Baltimore, and August 18, when White wrote Lucian Minor, Poe went to Richmond to assist White in editing the Southern Literary Messenger. Though Poe in his correspondence speaks of himself as editor of the magazine, White was slow in referring to him in that capacity. In the August 18 letter to Minor he says: “Mr. Poe is here also. — He tarries one month — and will aid me all that lies in his power.” (See Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, p. 98.) Again to Minor, October 24, 1835, White says: “... the paper is now under my own editorial management ... You may introduce Mr. Poe's name as amongst those engaged to contribute to its columns — taking care not to say as editor” — he had said about the same thing in his letter to Minor, September 8, when he stated that Poe would give him “some assistance ... in proof-reading” — (see Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 103-104 and 98). However, White wrote to William Scott, proprietor of the New York Weekly Messenger, August 25, 1836: “Courtesy to Mr. Poe whom I employ to edit my paper makes it a matter of etiquette with me to submit all articles intended for the Messenger to his judgment and I abide by his dicta” (MS. in Middlebury College Library). Furthermore, writing to Tucker, December 27, 1836, White said: “Highly as I really think of Mr. Poe's talents, I shall be forced to give him notice in a week or so at farthest that I can no longer recognize him as editor of my Messenger” (see James Southall Wilson, Century Magazine, CVII, 656). “The Galaxy” was the New England Galaxy (1817-1837?); Neal claimed editorship of it in 1835 (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 127). There is no evidence that Neal replied to Poe's letter. [CL 98] [page 73:]

50 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [September 11, 1835] [CL-101]

Richmond Sep: 11th 1835

Dear Sir,

I received a letter yesterday from Dr Miller in which he tells me you are in town. I hasten, therefore, to write you — and express by letter what I have always found it impossible to express orally — my deep sense of gratitude for your frequent and effectual assistance and kindness. Through your influence Mr White has been induced to employ me in assisting him with the Editorial duties of his Magazine at a salary of $520 per annum. The situation is agreable to me for many reasons — but alas! it appears to me that nothing can now give me pleasure — or the slightest gratification. Excuse me, my dear Sir, if in this letter you find much incoherency. My feelings at this moment are pitiable indeed. I am suffering under a depression of spirits such as I have never felt before. I have struggled in vain against the influence of this melancholy — You will believe me when I say that I am still miserable in spite of the great improvement in my circumstances. I say you will believe me, and for this simple reason, that a man who is writing for effect does not write thus. My heart is open before you — if it be worth reading, read it. I am wretched, and know not why. Console me — for you can. But let it be quickly — or it will be too late. Write me immediately. Convince me that it is worth one's while — that it is at all necessary to live, and you will prove yourself indeed my friend. Persuade me to do what is right. I do not mean this — I do not mean that you should consider what I now write you a jest — oh pity me! for I feel that my words are incoherent — but I will recover myself. You will not fail to see that I am suffering under a depression of spirits which will <not fail to> ruin me should it be long continued. Write me then, and quickly. Urge me to do what is right. Your words will have more weight with me than the words of others — for you were my friend when no one else was. Fail not — as you value your peace of mind hereafter.

E A. Poe.

Mr White desires me to say that if you could send him any contribution for the Messenger it would serve him most effectually. I [page 74:] would consider it a personal favour if you could do so without incommoding yourself. I will write you more fully hereafter.

John P. Kennedy Esqr

(Turn over)

[page 2] I see “the Gift” is out. They have published the M.S. found in a Bottle (, the prize tale you will remember,) although I not only told Mr Carey myself that it had been published, but wrote him to that effect after my return to Baltimore, and sent him another tale in place of it (Epimanes). I cannot understand why they have published it — or why they have not published either “Siope” or “Epimanes.”

Mr White is willing to publish my Tales of the Folio Club — that is to print them. Would you oblige me by ascertaining from Carey & Lea whether they would, in that case, appear nominally as the publishers, the books, when printed, being sent on to them, as in the case of H. S. Robinson.?

Have you seen the “Discoveries in the Moon”? Do you not think it altogether suggested by Hans Phaal? It is very singular, — but when I first purposed writing a Tale concerning the Moon, the idea of Telescopic discoveries suggested itself to me — but I afterwards abandoned it. I had however spoken of it freely, & from many little incidents & apparently trivial remarks in those Discoveries I am convinced that the idea was stolen from myself.

Yours most sincerely

Edgar A. Poe

The letter from Dr. James H. Miller (unlocated), one of the judges in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter contest (see Letter 38), suggests an unlocated letter from Poe to Dr. Miller; the letter from Dr. Miller may be dated September 8-9, and Poe's to Dr. Miller, ante September 8, 1835. For the date of Poe's joining Thomas W. White and the Southern Literary Messenger, see the note to Letter 49; Kennedy had interceded with White to employ Poe in the editing of the magazine (see Quinn, Poe, p. 208). Probably within the week following the present letter, White was forced to sever Poe's connection with the Messenger; though White, in his letter to Lucian Minor, September 21, 1835 (see Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 99-100), said: “Poe has flew the track already,” giving melancholy and drink as the causes; his letter to Poe, September 29 (H, XVII, 20-21), clearly indicates the chief [page 75:] reason for White's action. Moreover, White's letter to Poe indicates a letter from Poe (unlocated), datable about September 15-20, perhaps a few days later, asking reinstatement. Upon receipt of White's letter of September 29, Poe must have gone back to Richmond and the Messenger, for by October 8 he was writing to Robert M. Bird, “at the request of” White. Thus the despondency in the first part of the present letter to Kennedy was probably occasioned by the uncertainty of Poe's position on the Messenger. Page 2 of the letter, from its more confident tone, seems to have been written a day or two after the first; White may have promised Poe another opportunity to make good. Moreover, the delayed mailing of the letter would tend to account for the elapsed time between the date it was begun and Kennedy's reply, September 19, a reply that Kennedy, under the circumstances, would have been rather quick to send. Nevertheless, Poe was gone from Richmond when Kennedy's letter arrived, and it was forwarded to Baltimore, September 22 (MS. of Kennedy's letter is in the Boston Public Library; it is printed in H, XVII, 19-20). Poe's letter (unlocated) from Baltimore to E. L. Carey, of Carey and Lea, Philadelphia, concerning “MS. Found in a Bottle” (published in Saturday Visiter, October 19, 1833; reprinted in the Gift, 1836) is authenticated by Carey's letter to Kennedy, May 18, 18 (see Killis Campbell, “The Kennedy Papers,” Sewanee Review, XXV (April 1917), 197-198): “Poe has written me to say that the tale selected by Miss Leslie has been printed already ... I would have written him but that his letter is only now received and I am excessively busy.” Thus Poe's letter to Carey may be dated ante May 15, 1835. Nothing came of Poe's suggestion about the Tales of the Folio Club. Kennedy was the author of Horse-Shoe Robinson (1835). Concerning “Hans Phaal” and “Discoveries in the Moon,” see Poe's “Literati” article on Richard Adams Locke (H, XV, 126-137).

51 ⇒ TO ROBERT M. BIRD [October 8, 1835] [CL-106]

Richmond Oct. 8, 1835

[Dear Sir:]

At the request of Mr. Thomas W. White, Proprietor of the “Southern Literary Messenger,” published in this city, I take the liberty of addressing you, and soliciting your aid in the way of occasional or regular contributions to his Magazine. Being well aware that your time is fully occupied, I confess that I have little hope of being able so far to interest you in behalf of a merely Southern Journal as to obtain that assistance which you have refused to your more immediate neighbours. But the value of any contribution you might afford [page 76:] us rendered it incumbent upon me to make the attempt, at all events, in accordance with his desire.

Very respt. Yr. ob. st.

Edgar A. Poe

Only two letters are known from Poe to Bird, and two replies may be assumed: one, October 9 (?) or later, in which a “demi-promise ... in relation to an article for our Southern Literary Messenger” was made (see Letter 65) ; two, after June 7 (?), probably a note accompanying his poem “The Pine Wood,” contributed to the SLM, II (August 1836), 541. Dr. Bird was primarily a playwright and novelist, Poe having reviewed his Calavar in the SLM, I (February 1835), 315, and his The Infidel, SLM (June 1835), 582-585. See also Poe's “Autography,” SLM, February 1836 (reprinted in H, XV, 156), and his “Chapter on Autography,” Graham's, November 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 203-204).

51 ⇒ TO LUCIAN MINOR [October 31, 1835] [CL-107]

Richmond, October 31, 1835

[...  . .]

I will hand your translation to Mr. Poe in the morning, and will attend to your request touching keeping your name secret.

[Thomas W. White]

Lucian Minor (1802-1858) was a lawyer in Louisa County, Virginia. His “Letters from New England” were published in the Southern Literary Messenger, owned by Thomas W. White, from November 1834-April 1835, and his “Address of Education” appeared in the SLM in December 1835, while Poe was editor. In 1855 Minor became professor of law at the College of William and Mary (see the Dictionary of American Biography, XIII, 27). The present letter is interesting because it shows Poe serving as amanuensis for White (see also the note to Letter 99); however, despite the reference to “Mr. Poe” in the present letter, Poe probably not only wrote the letter but also formulated most of its content, White merely signing it.

** [[include Letter 51b from my supplement]] **

52 ⇒ TO BEVERLEY TUCKER [December 1, 1835] [CL-110]

Richmond Dec: 1. 35

Dear Sir,

Mr White was so kind as to read me some portions of your letter to himself, dated Nov 29, and I feel impelled, as much by gratitude for [page 77:] your many friendly expressions of interest in my behalf, as by a desire to make some little explanations, to answer, personally, the passages alluded to.

And firstly — in relation to your own verses. That they are not poetry I will not allow, even when judging them by your own rules. A very cursory perusal enabled me, when I first saw them, to point out many instances of the B@40@4l you mention. Had I the lines before me now I would particularize them. But is there not a more lofty species of originality than originality of individual thoughts or individual passages? I doubt very much whether a composition may not even be full of original things, and still be pure imitation as a whole. On the other hand I have seen writings, devoid of any new thought, and frequently destitute of any new expression — writings which I could not help considering as full of creative power. But I have no wish to refine, and I dare say you have little desire that I should do so. What is, or is not, poetry must not be told in a mere epistle. I sincerely think your lines excellent.

The distinction you make between levity, and wit or humour (that which produces a smile) I perfectly understand; but that levity is unbecoming the chair of the critic, must be taken, I think, cum grano salis. Moreover — are you sure Jeffrey was never jocular or frivolous in his critical opinions? I think I can call to mind some instances of the purest grotesque in his Reviews — downright horse-laughter. Did you ever see a critique in Blackwood's Mag: upon an Epic Poem by a cockney tailor? Its chief witticisms were aimed not at the poem, but at the goose, and bandy legs of the author, and the notice ended, after innumerable oddities in — “ha! ha! ha! — he! he! he! — hi! hi! hi! — ho! ho! ho! — hu! hu! hu”! Yet it was, without exception, the most annihilating, and altogether the most effective Review I remember to have read. Of course I do not mean to palliate such indecency. The reviewer should have been horsewhipped. Still I cannot help thinking levity here was indispensable. Indeed how otherwise the subject could have been treated I do not perceive. To treat a tailor's Epic seriously, (and such an Epic too!) would have defeated the ends of the critic, in weakening his own authority by making himself ridiculous.

Your opinion of ‘The MS. found in a Bottle’ is just. The Tale was written some years ago, and was one among the first I ever wrote. I have met with no one, with the exception of yourself & P. P. Cooke of Winchester, whose judgment concerning these Tales I place any value [page 78:] upon. Generally, people praise extravagantly those of which I am ashamed, and pass in silence what I fancy to be praise worthy. The last tale I wrote was Morella and it was my best. When I write again I will write something better than Morella. At present, having no time upon my hands, from my editorial duties, I can write nothing worth reading. What articles I have published since Morella were all written some time ago. I mention this to account for the “mere physique” of [page 2] the horrible which prevails in the “M.S. found in a Bottle”. I do not think I would be guilty of a similar absurdity now. One or two words more of Egotism.

I do not entirely acquiesce in your strictures on the versification of my Drama. I find that versification is a point on which, very frequently, persons who agree in all important particulars, differ very essentially. I do not remember to have known any two persons agree, thoroughly, about metre. I have been puzzled to assign a reason for this — but can find none more satisfactory than that music is a most indefinite conception. I have made prosody, in all languages which I have studied, a particular subject of inquiry. I have written many verses, and read more than you would be inclined to imagine. In short — I especially pride myself upon the accuracy of my ear — and have established the fact of its accuracy, to my own satisfaction at least, by some odd chromatic experiments. I was therefore astonished to find you objecting to the melody of my lines. Had I time just now, and were I not afraid of tiring you, I would like to discuss this point more fully. There is much room for speculation here. Your own verses (I remarked this, upon first reading them, to Mr White) are absolutely faultless, if considered as “pure harmony” — I mean to speak technically — “without the intervention of any dischords”. I was formerly accustomed to write thus, and it would be an easy thing to convince you of the accuracy of my ear by writing such at present — but imperceptibly the love of these dischords grew upon me as my love of music grew stronger, and I at length came to feel all the melody of Pope's later versification, and that of the present T. Moore. I should like to hear from you on this subject. The Dream was admitted solely thro’ necessity. I know not the author.

In speaking of my mother you have touched a string to which my heart fully responds. To have known her is to be an object of great interest in my eyes. I myself never knew her — and never knew the affection of a father. Both died (as you may remember) within a few [page 79:] weeks of each other. I have many occasional dealings with Adversity — but the want of parental affection has been the heaviest of my trials.

I would be proud if you would honor me frequently with your criticism. Believe me when I say that I value it. I would be gratified, also, if you write me in reply to this letter. It will assure me that you have excused my impertinence in addressing you without a previous acquaintance.

Very respy & sincerely

Y. ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Judge Beverly Tucker.

Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, a native Virginian, was Professor of Law at William and Mary College. He was an early contributor to the Southern Literary Messenger, and was the author of George Balcombe (1836), reviewed by Poe in the SLM, January 1837 (reprinted in H, IX, 243-265), and of The Partisan Leader (1836). Poe's “MS. Found in a Bottle” first appeared in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, October 19, 1833. For Poe's praise of Cooke's critical acumen, see Letter 82. “Morella” first appeared in the SLM, April 1835. Three scenes from Poe's drama Politian were published in the SLM, December 1835. To White, Tucker had written, “... if I do not mistake his [Poe's] filiation, I remember his beautiful mother when a girl” (see Quinn, Poe, p. 235). Mrs. Poe died in Richmond, December 8, 1811; but nothing definite is known concerning the death of David Poe.

53 ⇒ TO GEORGE POE [January 12, 1836] [CL-112]

Richmond. Jan: 12, 1836.

Dear Sir

I take the liberty of addressing you in behalf of a mutual relation, Mrs William Clemm, late of Baltimore — and at her earnest solicitation.

You are aware that for many years she has been suffering privations and difficulties of no ordinary kind. I know that you have assisted her at a former period, and she has occasionally received aid from her cousins, William and Robert Poe, of Augusta. What little has been heretofore in my own power I have also done. [page 80:]

Having lately established myself in Richmond, and undertaken the Editorship of the Southern Literary Messenger, and my circumstances having thus become better than formerly, I have ventured to offer my aunt a home. She is now therefore in Richmond, with her daughter Virginia, and is, for the present boarding at the house of a Mrs Yarrington. My salary is only at present, about $800 per ann: and the charge per week for our board, (Mrs Clemm's, her daughter's, and my own,) is $9. I am thus particular in stating my precise situation that you may be the better enabled to judge in regard to the propriety of granting the request which I am now about to make for Mrs Clemm.

It is ascertained that if Mrs C. could obtain the means of opening, herself, a boarding-house in this city, she could support herself and daughter comfortably with something to spare. But a small capital would be necessary for an undertaking of this nature, and many of the widows of our first people are engaged in it, and find it profitable. I am willing to advance, for my own part, $loo, and I believe that Wm & R. Poe will advance $100. If then you would so far aid her in her design as to loan her, Yourself 100, she will have sufficient to commence with. I will be responsible for the repayment of the sum, in a year from this date, if you can make it convenient to comply with her request.

I beg you, my dear Sir, to take this subject into consideration. I feel deeply for the distresses of Mrs Clemm, and I am sure you will feel interested in relieving them.

[signature cut out]

P.S) I am the son of David Poe Jr. Mrs Cs brother

George Poe was the grandson of John Poe, and the first cousin of William Poe, of Augusta, Georgia, to whom Poe wrote giving family relationships and soliciting aid for Mrs. Clemm, August 20, 1835; thus George Poe was Mrs. Clemm's first cousin, and Edgar's second. He was a banker in Mobile at the time of the present letter and apparently well off (see Quinn, Poe, p. 33). Mrs. Clemm and Virginia joined Poe in Richmond, in October 1835. R[obert] Poe was William's brother (see Mrs. Clemm to William Poe, October 7, 1835, printed in H, XVII, 379-381; and see also Letter 97), and lived in Augusta, Georgia. On the verso of the MS. letter, George Poe wrote: “Edgar A. Poe/ 12 Jan. 1836/ recd/ ans. 12 Feb./ Sent check for/$100”; for William Poe's aid to Mrs. Clemm, see Letter 60. Nothing ever came of the “boardinghouse” idea. [CL 112] [page 81:]

** [[include Letter 53a from 66 supplement]] **

54 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [January 22, 1836] [CL-114]

Richmond — Jany 22. 1836.

Dear Sir,

Although I have never yet acknowledged the receipt of your kind letter of advice some months ago, it was not without great influence upon me. I have, since then, fought the enemy manfully, and am now, in every respect, comfortable and happy. I know you will be pleased to hear this. My health is better than for years past, my mind is fully occupied, my pecuniary difficulties have vanished, I have a fair prospect of future success — in a word all is right. I shall never forget to whom all this happiness is in great degree to be attributed. I know that without your timely aid I should have sunk under my trials.

Mr White is very liberal, and besides my salary of 520$ pays me liberally for extra work, so that I receive nearly $800. Next year, that is at the commencement of the second volume, I am to get $1000. Besides this I receive, from publishers, nearly all new publications. My friends in Richmond have received me with open arms, and my reputation is extending — especially in the South. Contrast all this with those circumstances of absolute despair in which you found me, and you will see how great reason I have to be grateful to God — and to yourself.

Some matters in relation to the death of Mrs Catherine Clemm, who resided at Mount Prospect, four miles from Baltimore, render it necessary for me to apply to an attorney, and I have thought it probable you would be kind enough to advise me.

Mrs Catherine Clemm was the widow of William Clemm Sr (the owner of Clemm's lot). At his death, one third of Clemm's lot passed to his widow — to be divided at her death among the heirs of Mr C. She is now dead. The heirs are Mr C's surviving children, and the children of his deceased children. He had in all 5 children — William, John, James, Eliza, and Joseph. Of these Eliza and Joseph are living — and inherit each 1/5 of the 1/3. Another 1/5 will be divided among the children of John, another 1/5 among the children of James, and the remaining 1/5 among the children of William. It is in relation to this last 1/5 I desire to call your attention. Mrs Clemm, the widow of William Clemm Jr is now residing under my protection in Richmond. She has two children who have an interest in this 1/5 — one of them, [page 82:] Virginia, is living with her here — the other, Henry, is absent (at sea). William Clemm Jr had seven children in all — the 1/5 is to be divided among the seven. 5 of the children are in Baltimore (being Mr C's children by a former wife) the other two Henry & Virginia I have already spoken of. They are the children of Mr C by a second wife & share equally with the rest. Each (Henry & Virginia) then, <ar> is entitled to 1/7 of 1/5 of 1/3 = 1/105 of the whole lot. Mrs Catherine Clemm's 1/3 is to be sold immediately and the money divided as stated. Of this 1/3 Henry and Virginia are entitled (each) to 1/7 of 1/3 = 1/35

Mr James M. McCulloch, who has an office under Barnums, is the attorney for Mr C's children by his first wife, and what I would wish is that you would see justice done to his children by his second.

[page 2] I am entirely ignorant of all law matters, and know not what steps should be taken. Mrs Wm Clemm (now living in Richmond) wishes me (if possible) to be appointed the guardian of her 2 children. Henry is seventeen and Virginia 15. Will you be so good as to write me in reply, and give me advice. There is other property of which (I believe) Henry & Virginia are heirs precisely in the same way as of the lot. Mr McCulloch will give every information.

<A> I should be glad to have your opinion in regard to my Editorial course in the Messenger. How do you like my Critical Notices? I have understood (from the Preface to your 3d Edition of Horse-Shoe) that you are engaged in another work. If so, can you not send me on a copy in advance of the publication?

Remember me to your family, and believe me with the highest respect and esteem.

Yours very truly

Edgar A- Poe.

John P Kennedy Esqr

For Kennedy's aid to Poe, see the notes to Letter 50. In connection with his income, see Letter 53. According to Quinn (Poe, pp. 725-726), William Clemm, Jr., had seven children in all, four by his first wife, Harriet Poe: Georgiana, Harriet, Josephine, and William; and three by his second wife, Maria Poe: Henry, Virginia Maria, and Virginia Eliza (Poe's wife), Virginia Maria having died, aged two. At the time of the present letter, Virginia Eliza was only 14, having been born August 15, 1822. No inheritance came to Maria Clemm's children (see Kennedy to Poe, April 26, 1836; MS. unlocated; but printed in H, XVII, 32-33). Kennedy's new work, to which Poe refers, may have been Rob of the Bowl (1838). [CL 114] [page 83:]

55 ⇒ TO LUCIAN MINOR [February 5, 1836] [CL-117]

Richmond February 5. 1836

Dear Sir

At Mr Whites’ request I enclose you the sheets of the Messenger. In your article on “The Necessity of Selection in Reading” you will perceive that the original heading is abbreviated to “Selection in Reading”. This was necessary in order to preserve uniformity in the captions throughout — it being impossible to get in what you intended, and what, indeed, would have been most proper, except by making use of smaller type than what is used in the other articles.

Very respy and truly yours

Edgar A Poe

Lucian Minor Esqr.

It was thought better upon consideration to omit all passages in “Liberian Literature” at which offence could, by any possibility, be taken. We availed ourselves of your consent to do so.

“Selection in Reading” (unsigned) was printed in the SLM, II (February 1836), 141; and “Liberian Literature” (unsigned), in the SLM, II (February 1836), 158-159.

56 ⇒ TO STEPHEN G. BULFINCH [February 9, 1836] [CL-119]

Richmond Feb. 9, 1836

[Letter addressed to a Southern author and soliciting] in the name, and for the sake of Southern literature [the interest and contribution of the correspondent].

[Edgar A. Poe]

Evidence in Letter 69 tends to support the supposition that the correspondent in this item is Stephen G. Bulfinch of Augusta, Georgia. [CL 119]

** [[replace Letter with 56 from 66 supplement]] **

57 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [February 11, 1836] [CL-120]

Dr Sir,

I received your kind letter of the 9th about an hour ago, and went immediately in search of Mr Hubard — but have not been successful [page 84:] in getting the picture. Mr H. does not live in Richmond, but at Gloucester C.H. Va: By the merest accident, however, he was here to-day — having arrived yesterday, and intending to be off tomorrow. Before speaking to him I had ascertained that the picture was not in Richmond. Had it been here I would have obtained it at all hazards. He says that it is on its way to Baltimore — but I do not believe him. He had forgotten the name of the vessel in which he shipped it — thinks it was the Todsbury — and cannot tell who is her captain. It is possible that the picture is really on its way to Norfolk, where he is bound himself, and where he will exhibit it. But my firm impression is that it is at his house in Gloucester — opposite York. He has evidently no intention to give it up. I know a Mr Colin Clarke who resides in Gloucester — a gentleman of high respectability — and had some idea of writing him, and requesting him to get the picture in your name — but, upon second thoughts, determined to write you first. I will go to any trouble in the world to get it for you — if you will drict me in what manner to proceed.

You are nearly, but not altogether right in relation to the satire of some of my Tales. Most of them were intended for half banter, half satire — although I might not have fully acknowledged this to be their aim even to myself. “Lionizing” and “Loss of Breath” were satires properly speaking-at least so meant-the one of the rage for Lions and the facility of becoming one — the other of the extravagancies of Blackwood.

I find no difficulty in keeping pace with the demands of the [page 2] Magazine. In the February number, which is now in the binder's hands, are no less than 40 pages of Editorial — perhaps this is a little de trop.

There was no November number issued — Mr W. having got so far behind hand in regard to time, as to render it expedient to date the number which should have been the November number — December.

I am rejoiced that you will attend to the matters I spoke of in my last.

Mr W. has increased my salary, since I wrote, 104$. for the present year — this is being liberal beyond my expectations. He is exceedingly kind in every respect. [page 85:]

You did not reply to my query touching the “new work.” But I do not mean to be inquisitive.

Most sincerely yours

Edgar A Poe

John P Kennedy Esqr

Richmond — Feb: 11. 1836.

In an article called “Autography” in the next Messenger, you will see that I have made a blunder in relation to your seal. I could decypher only the concluding portion of the motto on one of your letters — (le partout) — and taking the head for a Lion's head, imagined the words to be “il parle partout.” Your last letter convinces me of my error. I doubt however if it is a matter of much importance.

Kennedy's letter, cited in Note 57, should be read in connection with the present one. Kennedy sought possession of a picture of his wife, her sister, and himself, painted by Hubard and valued at $225; Hubard had taken it to Richmond, promising to return it, but, after four years, had failed to keep his word. Concerning Poe's request as to how to proceed, see Kennedy to Poe, April 26, 18 (H, XVII, 32-33 ). At the time of the present letter, Poe had published 12 tales, ten of which belonged to the Tales of the Folio Club: “Metzengerstein,” “The Duc de L’Omelette,” “Lionizing,” “A Tale of Jerusalem,” “Loss of Breath,” “Bon-Bon,” “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “The Visionary,” “Morello,” “Hans Pfaall,” “King Pest,” and “Shadow. A Fable” (for dates, see Wyllie, Poe's Tales). Concerning the satire or burlesque in Poe's tales, see James Southall Wilson, “The Devil Was in It,” American Mercury, October 1931. Kennedy's letter of February 9, 1836, promised to see McCulloh about the disposition of the inheritance from the William Clemm, Sr., estate. In the February number of the Southern Literary Messenger, Poe began his article on autographs (see H, XV, 139 ff.); he spoke of Kennedy's penmanship as “our beau ideal,” and of the seal as “nearly square, with a lion's head in full alto relievo, surrounded by the motto ‘il parle par tout.’ “

** [[Fix “drict” to “direct”]] **

58 ⇒ TO JOHN COLLINS MCCABE [March 3, 1836] [CL-125]

My dear Sir:

A press of other engagements has prevented me, hitherto, from replying to your letter of 24th ult., but I have not the less borne it in mind. [page 86:]

I need not speak to you of the difficulties I have to encounter daily in selecting from the mass of MSS. handed in for the Messenger. Personal applications from personal friends of course embarrass me greatly. It is indeed almost impossible to refuse an article offered in this manner without giving mortal offence to the friend who offers it. This offence, however, is most frequently taken by those who have the fewest pretentions of merit. In the present instance I feel perfectly sure that I shall neither wound your feelings nor cause you to think less of me as an acquaintance by returning your poem — which I now enclose.

My reasons for declining it relate as much to yourself, individually, as to the Magazine. I feel exceedingly desirous that you should be even more favorably known to the public than you are at present, and that this object should be accomplished through the medium of the Messenger. I have frequently seen pieces from your pen which I would have been happy to insert — one long poem especially, whose title I cannot recall to mind — and some lines lately printed in the Baltimore Athenaeum — that great bowl of Editorial skimmed milk and water.

I think you will agree with me that “the Consumptive Girl” is not by any means a fair specimen of your talents. Like all I have seen of your composition, it breathes the true spirit of poetic sentiment and feeling — it has fine and original images — and has the proper material of the Muse, but it is deficient in the outward habiliments. The versification, in especial, is not what you can make it. The lines in most instances are rough, owing to your frequent choice of words abounding in consonants. Thus in the beginning:

“One burning spot blushed on her smooth fair cheek”.

In some instances the verses are more seriously defective, and cannot be scanned — or even read. For example:

“To the heart — Hope's death, love's blight, faded joys”,

and again:

“Long hair unbound fell o’er her swan like neck, wildly”.

I know you will reply, and with some appearance of justice, that much worse verses have appeared in the Messenger since my Editorship, and are still appearing; but these are poems which have been long on hand, and to the publication of which Mr. W. had bound himself [page 87:] by promise to their respective authors, before my time. Such difficulties shall not occur again.

Suppose you were to try a series of brief poems — say sonnets — one to appear regularly in each number of the Magazine, embodying multum in parvo, laboured out with scrupulous care in their metre — and signed with your initials. This will not fail, (if done as well as I know you can do them), to gain you a high and permanent position.

Your sincere well wisher,

Edgar A. Poe.

John C. McCabe, Esq., Richmond.

March 3d. 1836.

John Collins McCabe was a Richmond minister and minor literary figure (see Gordon, Memories and Memorials of William Gordon McCabe, I, 22, for the statement that he and Poe were close friends). Mr. W. was, of course, Thomas W. White, owner of the Southern Literary Messenger.

** [[replace Letter 58 from 66 supplement]] **

59 ⇒ TO LUCIAN MINOR [March 10, 1836] [CL-126]

Richmond, Va. March 10. 1836.

Dr Sir,

At Mr White's request I reply to yours of the 6th. The Messenger shall be mailed regularly to the Rev. O. A. Stearnes as you desire, and attention shall be paid to the pencilling. Your N. E. Letters are forwarded herewith, with the exception of Letter 3 (to be found in No 5 of the Messenger — a number which cannot be procured).

Your Marshall article has been very well received in all directions. Grigesby, of Norfolk, alone spoke ill of it and he speaks ill of every thing[.] His objections were to the passages touching John Randolph and Chapman Johnson. Professor Dew is now here, and thinks the whole article every thing it should be.

Liberian Literature has met a fate very similar. Lauded by all men of sense, it has excited animadversion from the Augusta Chronicle. The scoundrel says it is sheer abolitionism[.]

With high respect, Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe [page 88:]

Reverend Oliver A. Stearns (1807-1885) was a defender of anti-slavery policies, a prominent New England theologian, and a professor in the Harvard Divinity School (see the Dictionary of American Biography, XVII, 546-547). This letter identifies Minor as author of “Letters from New England — No. 3, by a Virginian,” in SLM, I (January 1835), 217-220. For the “Marshall article,” see SLM, II (February 1836), 181-191, unsigned. Hugh Blair Grigsby (1806-1881) owned and edited the Norfolk American Beacon, 1834-1840 (see the Dictionary of American Biography, VII, p. 628; also Cappon, p. 134). Thomas R. Dew was president of William and Mary College, 1836-1845.

60 ⇒ TO WILLIAM POE [April 12, 1836] [CL-132]

Richmond, Va., April 12, 1836

My dear Sir,

A press of business has hitherto prevented my replying to your kind letter of the 29th March, enclosing $50 to Mrs. Clemm. Your prompt and generous assistance, so frequently manifested, is, I assure you, deeply felt and appreciated by myself as well as by her. I trust that she is now so circumstanced, or that she soon will be so, as to render it unnecessary to tax the kindness of yourself and brothers any further.

On the day before receiving your letter I wrote to Washington Poe, Macon, in reply to a favor of his offering his own assistance. He has become a subscriber to the Messenger.

I hope you have received our March number. That for April will follow, I hope, soon.

It is probable that at some future time I may avail myself of your friendly invitation to pay you a visit in Augusta. In the mean time, should business or inclination lead you, or any of our friends, to Virginia, it would afford me the greatest pleasure to show you every attention in my power.

With my best respects to Mrs. Poe and your brother, I remain, dear William,

Yours most sincerely,

Edgar A. Poe.

William's gift probably resulted from a plea by Poe, or possibly Mrs. Clemm, for financial aid; if by Poe, the letter, ante March 29, 1836, is unlocated. [CL 132] [page 89:]

61 ⇒ TO LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY [April 12, 1836] [CL-133]

Richmond, Va April 12th 1836

Mrs L. H. Sigourney,


At the request of Mr T. W. White, I take the liberty of replying to your letter of the 6th ult.

I am vexed to hear that you have not received the Messenger regularly, and am confident that upon reception of the January number (now again forwarded to your address) you will be fully convinced that your friends, in their zeal for your literary reputation, have misconceived the spirit of the criticism to which you have alluded. To yourself, personally, we commit our review, with a perfect certainty of being understood. That we have evinced any “severity amounting to unkindness” is an accusation of which you will, I sincerely hope, unhesitatingly acquit us. We refer you, especially, to the concluding sentences of the critique.

Mr White desires me to express his regret at the mistake in relation to your package of books. He would have placed them immediately in the hands of some bookseller here, but was not sure that your views would be met in so doing. They are now properly disposed of.

You will, I hope, allow us still to send you the [page 2] Messenger. We are grieved, and mortified to hear that you cannot again contribute to its pages, but your objection in respect to receiving a copy without equivalent is untenable — any one of your pieces already published in our journal being more than an equivalent to a subscription in perpetuo. This we say as publishers, without any intention to flatter, and having reference merely to the sum usually paid, to writers of far less reputation, for articles immeasurably inferior.

In respect to your question touching the Editor of the Messenger, I have to reply that, for the last six months, the Editorial duties have been undertaken by myself. Of course, therefore, I plead guilty to all the criticisms of the journal during the period mentioned. In addition to what evidence of misconception on the part of your friends you will assuredly find in the January number, I have now only to say that sincere admiration of the book reviewed was the predominant feeling in my bosom while penning the review.

It would afford me the highest gratification should I find that you [page 90:] acquit me of this “foul charge.” I will look with great anxiety for your reply.

Very resply & truly

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe

Mrs. Sigourney's Zinzendorf, and Other Poems (1836) was reviewed by Poe in the SLM, January 18 (reprinted in H, VIII, 122-142). For Poe's joining White and the Southern Literary Messenger, see Letter 45 and notes, and the note to Letter 49.

62 ⇒ TO BEVERLEY TUCKER [May 2, 1836] [CL-136]

Richmond May 2. 1836.

Dear Sir,

At Mr White's request I write to apologise for the omission of your verses “To a Coquette” in the present number of the Messenger. Upon making up the form containing them it was found impossible to get both the pieces in, and their connection one with the other rendered it desirable not to separate them — they were therefore left for the May number.

I must also myself beg your pardon for making a few immaterial alterations in your article on Slavery, with a view of so condensing it as to get it in the space remaining at the end of the number. One very excellent passage in relation to the experience of a sick bed has been, necessarily, omitted altogether.

It would give me great pleasure to hear your opinion of the February, and of the April number of the Messenger — I mean of the Editorial articles. It is needless for me to say that I value your good opinion, and wish to profit by your counsel.

Please present my best respects to Professor Dew.

With the highest esteem

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Will you ask Mr Saunders what has become of the article he promised us?

Tucker's two poems, both entitled “To a Coquette,” omitted in the April number of the Southern Literary Messenger, appeared in the May issue, though unsigned. Tucker's article on slavery was an unsigned [page 91:] review of J. K. Paulding's Slavery in the United States. Both Thomas R. Dew and Robert Saunders were professors at William and Mary College, Williamsburg.

63 ⇒ TO JARED SPARKS [May 23, 1836] [CL-137]

Richmond May 23. 1836.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 17th is received, and I reply to it at the request of Mr White. Herewith a number of the Messenger is forwarded, containing the Letter of Celia Single.

The M.S.S. from which we publish are not in our immediate possession — but in that of Mr Wm Duane Jr of Philadelphia. He possesses a M.S. volume containing many originals of Franklin. I rather suppose that the articles you allude to (as being suspicious) in Mr Duane's edition, are genuine, and are a portion of the collection from which we are now publishing. I mean to say, of course, that this collection is in the hand-writing of Franklin. Mr D. transcribes the M.S. for our use.

I would be very glad if you could interest yourself in any manner for the success of our Magazine in Boston.

Very respy

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe

Jared Sparks Esqr

Cambridge. Mass.

Jared Sparks was Professor of History at Harvard (see “Autography,” in H, XV, 214). “Letter of Celia Single” appeared in SLM, II (April 1836), 296; “MSS. of Benj. Franklin” with a note: “never yet published” appeared in SLM, II (April 1836), 293-295. William J. Duane was Secretary of the Treasury from May to September 1833, under President Jackson, after which he returned to Philadelphia and practically withdrew from public life (see the Dictionary of American Biography, V, 469).

64 ⇒ TO JAMES H. CAUSTEN [June 3, 1836] [CL-139]

Richmond, Va June 3. 1836.

Dr Sir,

Understanding that you have been engaged, at different times, in the prosecution of private claims against the Government of the U.S. [page 92:] I have taken the liberty of addressing you on a subject of this nature.

I believe you were personally acquainted with some branches of my family in Baltimore. I am the son of David Poe Jr of that city. It appears to me (and to some others to whom I have mentioned the subject) that my aunt, Mrs Maria Clemm (who now resides with me in Richmond, I having married her daughter) has a claim against the U.S. to a large amount which might be carried to a successful issue if properly managed. I will state, as briefly as possible, the nature of the claim, of which I pretend to give merely an outline, not vouching for particular dates or amounts.

During the war of the Revolution, Mrs C's father, Gen: David Poe, was a quarter-master in what was then called the Maryland line. He, at various times, loaned money to the State of Maryland, and about seventeen years ago died, while engaged in making arrangements for the prosecution of his claim. His widow, Mrs Elizabeth Poe, applied to the State Government, which, finding itself too impoverished to think of paying the whole amount (then nearly $40,000) passed a bill, for the immediate time, granting Mrs Poe an annuity of $240 — thus tacitly acknowledging the validity of the vouchers adduced. Mrs Poe is now dead, and I am inclined to believe, from the successful prosecution of several claims of far less promise, but of a similar nature, that the whole claim might be substantiated before the General Government — which has provided for a liberal interpretation of all vouchers in such cases. Among these vouchers (now in proper form at Annapolis) are, I believe, letters from Washington, La Fayette, & many others speaking in high terms of the services and patriotism of Gen: Poe. I have never seen the bill granting the annuity to Mrs Poe, but it may possibly contain a proviso against any future claim. This however, would be of little moment, if the matter were properly brought before Congress.

My object in addressing you is to inquire if you would be willing to investigate and conduct this claim — leaving the terms for your own consideration. Mrs C. authorizes me to act for her in every respect. I would be glad to hear from you as soon as you can make it convenient.

Very resply

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe

James H. Causten Esqr [page 93:]

According to the Anderson Galleries catalogue, cited in Note 64, Causten was associated in Washington with Col. John T. Pickett, who was connected with the French spoliation claims; the letter came up for sale from the Pickett family. The same Catalogue states that Gen. David Poe was appointed Assistant Deputy Quartermaster of the Continental Army in Baltimore, April 8, 1778, and on September 10, 1779, was listed as a Continental agent to purchase for the Army. Though Gen. Poe asked nothing for his services, he asked of the Government $40,000 for actual outlays of money. He received nothing, for letters in his support from Washington, Lafayette, and others, “were not held to be vouchers of technical formalities.” Later, however, the State of Maryland granted his widow an annuity. There is no evidence that Poe's letter to Causten had any success.

65 ⇒ TO ROBERT M. BIRD [June 7, 1836] [CL-143]

Richmond — Va June 7th 1836

Dr Sir,

I take the liberty of again addressing you, and of calling your attention to what was not precisely a promise on your part, but a kind of demi-promise made some months ago — in relation to an article for our “Southern Literary Messenger.” It would be, indeed, a matter of sincere congratulation with us, if, by any means within our power, we could so far interest you in our behalf as to obtain something from the author of “Calavar”. We have, just at this moment, a conspiracy on foot, and we would be most happy to engage you in our plans. We wish, if possible, to take the public opinion by storm, in a single number of the Messenger which shall contain a series of articles from all the first pens in the land. Can you not aid us — with a single page if no more? I will trust to the chivalric spirit of him who wrote the “Infidel” for a reply.

With the highest respect

Yr. Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Dr Robert M. Bird

Bird answered Poe's request by sending a poem, “The Pine Wood,” published in the SLM, II (August 1836), 541. Poe had reviewed The Infidel, commenting on Calavar, in the SLM, June 1835 (reprinted in H, VIII, 32-37). [CL 143] [page 94:]

66 ⇒ TO JAMES FENIMORE COOPER [June 7, 1836] [CL-144]

Richmond, June 7, 1836

Dr Sir

At the request of Mr. T. W. White, I take the liberty of addressing you and of soliciting some little contribution to our Southern Literary Messenger. I am aware that you are continually pestered with such applications, and am ready to believe that I have very little chance of success in this attempt to engage you in our interest, yet I owe it to the magazine to make the effort.

One reason will, I think, have its influence with you. Our publication is the first literary attempt of Virginia, and has been for eighteen months forcing its way, unaided and against a host of difficulties, into the public attention. We wish, if possible to strike a bold stroke which may establish us on a surer footing than we now possess, and design to issue, as soon as possible, a number of the journal consisting altogether of articles from distinguished Americans, whose names may give weight and character to this work. To aid us in this attempt would cost you no effort, as any spare scrap in your port folio would answer our main purpose and to us your aid would be invaluable.

With highest respect,

Yr Ob St

Edgar A. Poe

Cooper does not seem to have complied with Poe's request. For similar solicitations, see Letters 65, 67, and 68.

67 ⇒ TO FITZ-GREENE HALLECK [June 7, 1836] [CL-146]

Richmond Va. June 7, 1836.

Dear Sir,

At the request of the Proprietor of the “Southern Literary Messenger” I take the liberty of addressing you, and of soliciting some little contribution to our journal. It is well known to us that you are continually pestered with similar applications; we are, therefore, ready to believe that we have little chance of success in this attempt to engage you in our interest — yet we owe it to the Magazine to make the effort.

One consideration, will, we think, have its influence with you. Our publication is the first successful literary attempt of Virginia, and has [page 95:] been now, for eighteen months, forcing its way unaided, and against a host of difficulties, into the public view and attention[.]

We wish to issue, if possible, a number of the Messenger consisting altogether of articles from our most distinguished literati, and to this end we have received aid from a variety of high sources. To omit your name in the plan we propose would be not only a negative sin on our part — but would be a positive injury to our cause. In this dilemma may we not trust to your good nature for assistance? Send us any little scrap in your port-folio — it will be sure to answer our purpose fully, if it have the name of Halleck affixed[.]

With the highest respect

Yr. Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe

Ed. S. L. M.

Fitz-Greene Halleck Esqr

There is no evidence that Halleck complied with Poe's request. The SLM had been “forcing its way” for more than “eighteen months.” White's first number appeared in August 1834, as a bi-weekly periodical “Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts,” but it was changed to a monthly with the November issue (see Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 20-21).

** [[include Letter 67a from 66 supplement]] **

68 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [June 7, 1836] [CL-147]

Richmond. Va. June 7. 1836.

Dear Sir,

Having got into a little temporary difficulty I venture to ask you, once more, for aid, rather than apply to any of my new friends in Richmond.

Mr White, having purchased a new house, at $10.000, made propositions to my aunt to rent it to her, and to board himself and family with her. This plan was highly advantageous to us, and, having accepted it, all arrangements were made, and I obtained credit for some furniture &c to the amount of $200, above what little money I had. But upon examination of the premises purchased, it appears that the house will barely be large enough for one family, and the scheme is laid aside — leaving me now in debt (, to a small amount,) without the means of discharging it upon which I had depended.

In this dilemma I would be greatly indebted to you for the loan of $100 for 6 months. This will enable me to meet a note for $100 [page 96:] due in 3 months — and allow me 3 months to return your money. I shall have no difficulty in doing this, as, beyond this 100$, I owe nothing, and I am now receiving 15 $ per week, and am to recieve $20 after November. All Mr White's disposable money has [page 2] been required to make his first payment.

Have you heard any thing farther in relation to Mrs Clemm's estate?

Our Messenger is thriving beyond all expectation, and I myself have every prospect of success.

It is our design to issue, as soon as possible, a number of the Magazine consisting entirely of articles from our most distinguished literati. To this end we have received, and have been promised, a variety of aid from the highest sources — Mrs Sigourney, Miss Sedgwick, Paulding, Flint, Halleck, Cooper, Judge Hopkinson, Dew, Governor Cass — J. Q. Adams, and many others. Could you not do me so great a favor as to send a scrap, however small[,] from your portfolio? Your name is of the greatest influence in that region where we direct our greatest efforts — in the South. Any little reminiscence, tale, jeu-d’esprit[,] historical anecdote — any thing, in short, with your name, will answer all our purposes.

I presume you have heard of my marriage. With sincere respect and esteem

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

J. P. Kennedy.

No reply from Kennedy is known. Concerning Mrs. Catherine Clemm's estate, see Letter 54. With one exception, letters from the authors cited in the present letter are unlocated; Mrs. Sigourney's letter to Poe, June 11, 1836 (original in the Boston Public Library), promises a contribution and mentions a letter from Poe, June 4, which is unlocated. Poe and Virginia were married in Richmond, Monday, May 16, 1836 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 252).

** [[The misspelling of “receive” appears to be Ostrom's error. The MS, unfortunately, was in the H. B. Martin sale, and its current whereabouts are unknown. The text extracts in the catalog spell it correctly.]] **

69 ⇒ TO STEPHEN G. BULFINCH [June 8, 1836] [CL-149]

Richmond June 8, 1836

My dear Sir;

Your kind letter of the 3d ult. is received, and I beg you to accept my thanks for your beautiful translation, and equally beautiful original lines. It would, indeed, be a source of congratulation with me if, by any means within my power I could secure your occasional aid in [page 97:] the way of contributions. I look, with much interest, for your promised Notice of Mr. Perdicaris’ Lectures. You will send it on, I hope, as soon as possible. The 20 copies shall be attended to. Your verses are already in the printer's hands, and shall appear, certainly, in the next number of the Messenger — of which a copy shall be also forwarded to Mr. Perdicaris.

Do you not think that, through your intercession, Perdicaris himself might be induced to send us something for our journal. I am well aware of his abilities, and especially of his critical acquaintance with the classical Greek. A Romaic song, in the original, by P. with a translation by yourself, would be an invaluable gem. We would be glad, indeed, to publish anything either from him or from yourself.

Please give my best respects to my cousins, Robert F. Poe, and William, and believe me, dear Sir, that I fully reciprocate the many kind expressions of your letter.

With the highest respect

yr. mo. ob, st.

Edgar A. Poe.

The identification of Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch is based upon investigations by James H. Whitty, who claimed to have seen the letter, according to information sent to me by David K. Jackson. Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch (18o9-1870), a native Bostonian, became a Unitarian clergyman in Augusta, Georgia, 1830-1837. He published religious works and a book of poems. He was the brother of Thomas Bulfinch, author of The Age of Fable (see Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, I, 444). The SLM, II (June 1836), 410-411, carried an article entitled “Perdicaris,” consisting of a half column of biographical information introducing two poems: “From the Romaic of Christopoulos” (a translation “executed with Mr. Perdicaris's assistance, from Christopoulos”), and “To G. A. Perdicaris” (obviously written by the author of the introduction, who signs himself at the end of the second poem: B. Robert and William Poe lived in Augusta, Georgia.

** [[replace Letter 69 from 66 supplement]] **

** [[include Letter 69a from 66 supplement]] **

** [[include Letter 69b from 66 supplement]] ** [This is tricky since there appear now to be two different Letters competing as 69b entries. Cass needs to be 69c]]

** [[include Letter 69b from 74 supplement]] **

70 ⇒ TO LITTLETON W. TAZEWELL [July 16, 1836] [CL-154]

Richmond. July 16, 1836.

Dr Sir,

At the request of Mr T. W. White, I take the liberty of soliciting, for publication in the Messenger, your Reasons for declining to transmit [page 98:] the instructions of the State Legislature to Mess. Tyler & Leigh.

If, as I imagine, these reasons enter into the Constitutional question itself, it would afford us the greatest pleasure to give them publicity, and we should take it as an especial favor if you could let us have them for this purpose.

Very respy

Yr ob St

Edgar A. Poe

Littleton W. Tazewell Esqr

Littleton W. Tazewell, of Norfolk, succeeded John Marshall in Congress in 1800, was United States Senator from Virginia in 1824, and was Governor of Virginia, 1834-1836 (see The South in the Building of the Nation, XII, 445-446). John Tyler, later President of the United States, and Benjamin W. Leigh were United States Senators from Virginia at the time of the present letter (ibid., pp, 487 and 89-90). Tazewell did not contribute the article to the SLM as Poe requested.

71 ⇒ TO MATHEW CAREY [July 30, 1836] [CL-156]

Richmond July 30. 1836

Dr Sir,

Your article on the “study of the learned languages” was duly received, and is already “set up”. I am much in hope that it will please the public generally as much as it has done myself. My object in writing you at present is to beg that you will allow us to alter the heading which you have affixed to it, from the words “A Looker on in Venice, No 2”, to the words “On the study of the Learned Languages” or some similar caption. I have many reasons for requesting this favor. First — it would accord with the character of all the other captions made use of in our Magazine — Secondly it would prevent the necessity of making any explanation in regard to the heading of your last article. and explanations are always inconvenient — Thirdly, your article would then stand by itself unconnected with any thing going before, or to come — Fourthly it would prevent our having a series of continued articles which you must know by experience are often the cause of some trouble-and Fifthly the “Looker on in Venice” is a caption which has been very frequently been made use of before by [page 2] Essayists. I submit all, however, to your better judgment, merely saying that Mr White would take it as a personal favor if you would allow us to make the alteration proposed. [page 99:]

I am extremely sorry that the error should have occurred in relation to your Anthologia and The Science of Life. We did not, however, suppose it necessary to put the Anthologia as a selection — supposing the word Anthologia itself sufficiently significant,

With high respect

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

I perceive that your article “National Ingratitude” has attracted great attention, and approbation. The Charlottesville Jeffersonian among other papers pays it a merited compliment.

Carey's article appeared as “The Learned Languages” in SLM, II (August 1836), 557-561. His “last article” refers to “National Ingratitude” in SLM, II (July 1836), 486-488, and not to the very brief “The Science of Life” (ibid., p. 503) or the poem “Anthologia” (ibid.). No reply from Carey is known.

72 ⇒ TO HIRAM HAINES [August 19, 1836] [CL-158]

Richmond — Va.

Dr Sir,

Herewith I send you the August number of the “Messenger” — the best number, by far, yet issued. Can you oblige me so far as to look it over and give your unbiassed opinion of its merits and demerits in the “Constellation”? We need the assistance of all our friends and count upon yourself among the foremost.

The contributions have, in most cases, the names of the authors prefixed. All after the word Editorial is my own.

If you copy any thing please take my Review of Willis’ “Inklings of Adventure” — or some other Review.

With sincere respect

Yr ob. St

Edgar A. Poe

H. Haines Esqr

For elaboration of “the best number, by far, yet issued” see Letter 73. “All after the word Editorial” includes 2 editorials and 13 reviews. Haines had praised Poe's reviews as early as January 1836, and, subsequently, complimented him upon certain reviews and criticisms and [page 100:] reprinted portions of Poe's work. (See SLM, II (January 1836), 140; ibid. (February 1836), pp. 205-212; ibid. (April 1836), p. 347; ibid. (July 1836), p. 522. Hiram Haines (1802-1841) was a minor literary figure and publisher of Petersburg, Virginia; he published Mountain Buds and Blossoms, a volume of poetry, in 1825; established the democratic tri-weekly American Constellation in 1834; edited Th’ Time o’ Day, devoted to news and literature, in 1839; and published the Virginia Star (a weekly, then a semi-weekly) from March 4, 1840, until his death, probably in February 1841 (for fuller account, see Ostrom, in Americana, XXXVI, No. 1 (January 1942), pp. 67-71).


To the Editor of the Compiler:

Dear Sir:

In a late paragraph respecting the “Southern Literary Messenger,” you did injustice to that Magazine — and perhaps your words, if unanswered, may even do it an injury. As any such wrong is far from your thoughts, you will of course, allow the Editor of the Messenger the privilege of reply. The reputation of a young Journal, occupying a conspicuous post in the eye of the public, should be watched, by those who preside over its interests, with a jealous attention, and those interests defended when necessary and when possible. But it is not often possible. Custom debars a Magazine from answering in its own pages (except in rare cases,) contemporary misrepresentations and attacks. Against these it has seldom, therefore, any means of defence — the best of reasons why it should avail itself of the few which, through courtesy, may fall to its lot. I mean this as an apology for troubling you to-day.

Your notice of the Messenger would generally be regarded as complimentary — especially so to myself. I would, however, prefer justice to a compliment, and the good name of the Magazine to any personal consideration. The concluding sentence of your paragraph runs thus: “The criticisms are pithy, and often highly judicious, but the editors must remember that it is almost as injurious to obtain a character for regular cutting and slashing, as for indiscriminate laudation.” The italics are my own. I had supposed you aware of the fact that the Messenger has but one editor — it is not right that others should be saddled with demerits belonging only to myself. But this is not the [page 101:] point to which I especially object. You assume that the Messenger has obtained a character for regular “cutting and slashing;” or if you do not mean to assume this, every one will suppose that you do — which, in effect, is the same. Were the assumption just, I would be silent, and set immediately about amending my editorial course. You are not sufficiently decided, I think, in saying that a career of “regular cutting and slashing is almost as bad as one of indiscriminate laudation.” It is infinitely worse — it is horrible. The laudation may proceed from — philanthropy, if you please; but the “indiscriminate cutting and slashing” only from the vilest passions of our nature. But I wish briefly to examine two points-first, is the charge of indiscriminate “cutting and slashing” just, granting it adduced against the Messenger? — and, second, is such charge adduced at all? Since the commencement of my editorship in December last, 94 books have been reviewed. In 79 of these cases, the commendation has so largely predominated over the few sentences of censure, that every reader would pronounce the notices highly laudatory. In 7 instances, viz: in those of The Hawks of Hawk Hollow, The Old World and the New, Spain Revisited, the Poems of Mrs. Sigourney, of Miss Gould, of Mrs. Ellett, and of Halleck, praise slightly prevails. In 5, viz: in those of Clinton Bradshaw, The Partisan, Elkswatawa, Lafitte, and the Poems of Drake, censure is greatly predominant; while the only reviews decidedly and harshly condemnatory are those of Norman Leslie, Paul Ulric, and the Ups and Downs. — The “Ups and Downs” alone is unexceptionably condemned. Of these facts you may satisfy yourself at any moment by reference. In such case the difficulty you will find, in classing these notices, as I have here done, according to the predominance of censure or commendation, will afford you sufficient evidence that they cannot justly be called “indiscriminate.”

But this charge of indiscriminate “cutting and slashing” has never been adduced — except in 4 instances, while the rigid justice and impartiality of our journal has been lauded even ad nauseam in more than four times four hundred. You should not therefore have assumed that the Messenger had obtained a reputation for this “cutting and slashing” — for the asserting a thing to be famous, is a well known method of rendering it so. The 4 instances to which I allude, are the Newbern Spectator, to which thing I replied in July — the Commercial Advertiser of Colonel Stone, whose Ups and Downs I had occasion (pardon me) to “use up” — the N. Y. Mirror, whose Editor's Norman [page 102:] Leslie did not please me — and the Philadelphia Gazette, which, being conducted by one of the sub-editors of the Knickerbocker, thinks it its duty to abuse all rival Magazines.

I have only to add that the inaccuracy of your expression in the words — “The August No. of the Southern Literary Messenger has been well received by most of the Editorial corps who have noticed it,” is of a mischievous tendency in regard to the Messenger. You have seen, I presume, no notices which have not been seen by myself — and you must be aware that there is not one, so far, which has not spoken, in the highest terms, of the August number. I cannot, however, bring myself to doubt that your remarks, upon the whole, were meant to do the Messenger a service, and that you regard it with the most friendly feelings in the world.


The Editor of the Messenger.

The Courier paragraph to which Poe alludes, and which, so far as I know, has not been reprinted, follows: “The August No. of the Southern Literary Messenger has been well received by most of the editorial corps who have noticed it. These commendations may be valued, because they emanate from sources beyond the influence of private friendship; and therefore it is, that suggestions of improvement should be, and we have no doubt will be, duly regarded by the editor and publisher. No periodical in the country has been so successful in obtaining the aid of able and distinguished writers; and the quantity of matter is much greater than need be. We entirely agree with the editor of one of the prints, who thinks a choice tale in each number would add to its attraction; as something is due to the tastes of those who have neither time nor relish for the higher grades of literature. Specimens of the writing we refer to, have often been given in the Messenger, but the supply may not be as abundant as needful. The hint, we are sure, is enough to prompt the effort to obtain regular contributions of this sort.

“The criticisms are pithy and often highly judicious, but the editors must remember that it is almost as injurious to obtain a character for regular cutting and slashing as for indiscriminate laudation.” The editor's remarks, appended to Poe's letter, protest innocence of any attempt to injure the reputation of the Messenger; point out that “editors” was a typographical error and that the paper did not imply that the editor of the Messenger was already guilty of cutting and slashing, but merely warned him against such a possibility; and, further, that Poe in his letter chose “to transpose our words, and use the word ‘indiscriminate’ instead of ‘regular,’ which makes us say what we did not say.” [page 103:] The editor of the paper cites, “if we remember right,” the Baltimore Chronicle as one paper that did not praise unreservedly the August number of the Messenger. The Newbern [N.C.] Spectator article (reprinted in the SLM, II (July 1836), 517) said the SLM was pretentious and that many of its articles were worthy only of an ephemeral sheet, and was answered by Poe, SLM, II, 517-518. Colonel Stone's Ups and Downs was severely handled in the SLM, II (June 1836), 455-457. Theodore S. Fay's Norman Leslie was reviewed in SLM, II (December 1835) 54-57. For Poe's statement that he is the only editor of the SLM, see the note to Letter 49.

74 ⇒ TO HARRISON HALL [September 2, 1836] [CL-160]

Richmond Sep: 2. 1836.

Dr Sir,

Mr White duly received your letter of the 12th August, and I take the liberty of replying for him. The Latin Grammar and Mr Hall's Sketches have come to hand. The latter I have perused, some time ago, with great interest — I have also read the objectionable article in the N. A. Review, and agree with you that some personal pique is at the bottom of it. I cannot republish the reply in the Am. D. Advertiser, but, with your leave, I will make it the basis of another notice for the Sep: Messenger. It is against our rules to republish any thing — otherwise the reply is so good it would save me the trouble of saying more.

Will you now permit me to trouble you with a little business of my own? At different times there has appeared in the Messenger a series of Tales, by myself — in all seventeen. They are of a bizarre and generally whimsical character, and were originally written to illustrate a large work “On the Imaginative Faculties.” I have prepared them for republication, in book form, in the [page 2] following manner. I imagine a company of 17 persons who call themselves the Folio Club. They meet once a month at the house of one of the members, and, at a late dinner, each member reads aloud a short prose tale of his own composition. The votes are taken in regard to the merits of each tale. The author of the worst tale, for the month, forfeits the dinner & wine at the next meeting. The author of the best, is President at the next meeting. The seventeen tales which appeared in the Messr are supposed to be narrated by the seventeen members at one of these monthly meetings. As soon as <one> each tale is read — the other 16 members [page 104:] criticise it in turn — and these criticisms are intended as a burlesque upon criticism generally. The author of the tale adjudged to be the worst demurs from the general judgment, seizes the seventeen M.SS. upon the table, and, rushing from the house, determines to appeal, by printing the whole, from the decision of the Club, to that of the public. The critical remarks, which have never been published, will make about 1/4 of the whole — the whole will form a volume of about 300 close pages. oct.

I refer you for the reputation of these tales to the covers of the 1rst & 2d vols. Lit. Messr — A mass of eulogy, in the way of extracts from papers, might be appended if necessary, such as have never appeared to any volume in the country. I mention this merely as a matter of business.

My object in stating the nature of these tales &c is to ascertain if you, or any bookseller of your acquaintance, would feel willing to undertake [page 3] the publication. I make you the first offer. In regard to remuneration, as 3/4 of the book will have been published before, I shall expect none beyond a few copies of the work. My interest with the press throughout the U.S. is perhaps as extensive as that of any man in the country, and would aid the sale, no doubt. Please write me, as soon as possible, on this head. I shall be happy to review, fully, any books you may be pleased to forward.

Very respy,

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Herewith I forward the published Nos of Vol 2 of the Mess.

Poe answered numerous letters for T. W. White during his editorship of the SLM. Harrison Hall was a Philadelphia printer and had published the Port Folio, 1816-18 27 (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 223). For Poe's review of the Latin Grammar, published by Hall, see H, IX, 166-167. The “Sketches” may have been those by Basil Hall, reviewed by Poe in the Messenger, October 1836 (see H, IX, 170-174). Contrary to Poe's statement, the SLM did republish material; for example, Poe's tales. The chief interest in the present letter lies in Poe's discussion of the Folio Club. Poe's original plan for the Club was to have a membership “limited to eleven” (see H, II, xxxvii); the present letter shows its expansion to seventeen. By the date of the present letter, Poe had printed in the SLM a total of 14 tales: of these, Quinn (Poe, pp. 745-746) accepts all, with the possible exception of “Hans Phaall,” [page 105:] as tales of the Club; James Southall Wilson accepts only 12, excepting “Hans Phaall” and “Morella.” To make up the total of 17, Quinn adds to the above 14 the following, published later: “Mystification,” “Siope,” and “A Descent into the Maelstrom”; Wilson excludes “A Descent into the Maelstrom,” accepts “Mystification,” and “Siope” and adds “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” and “Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling,” making a total of 16. (In this connection, see James Southall Wilson, “The Devil Was In It,” American Mercury, XXIV (October 1931), 214-220.) The “critical remarks,” mentioned by Poe, are lost. The 14 SLM tales found republication in the Tales of 1840. No reply from Harrison Hall is known.

** [[include Letter 74a from my supplement]] **

75 ⇒ TO SARAH J. HALE [October 20, 1836] [CL-164]

Richmond Oct: 20. 1837. [1836]

Dear Madam,

I was somewhat astonished to day at receiving a letter addressed to “W. G. Simms Esqr, Editor of the S. L. Messenger”, and hesitated about my right to open it, until I reflected that, in forwarding it to Mr S., I should place him in a similar dilemma. I therefore broke the seal — but the address, even within, was “W. G. Simms.” I could arrive, therefore, at no other conclusion than that, by some missapprehension, you have imagined Mr S. to be actually Editor of the Messenger, altho’ I wrote you, but lately, in that capacity myself.

Of course, under the circumstances, it is difficult to reply to one portion of your letter — that touching the prose article desired. If however, it was your wish that I should furnish it, I am grieved to say that it will be impossible for me to make a definite promise just now, as I am unfortunately overwhelmed with business, having been sadly thrown back by late illness. I regret this the more sincerely as I would be proud to find my name in any publication you edit, and as you have been so kind as to aid the Messenger so effectually in a similar manner yourself. To send you a crude or hastily written article would be injurious to me, and an insult to yourself — and I fear that I could, at present, do little more.

As Editor of the Messenger I can however say that it will afford me sincere pleasure to do you any service in my power. I shall look anxiously for the “Ladies’ Wreath.”

I am surprised and grieved to learn that your son (with whom I had a slight acquaintance at W. Point) should have been vexed about [page 106:] the autographs. So mere nonsense it was hardly worth while to find fault with. Most assuredly as regards yourself, Madam, I had no intention of giving offence — in respect to the “Mirror” I am somewhat less scrupulous.

With the highest regard

I am Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

Mrs Sarah J. Hale

Mrs. Hale contributed “A Profession for Ladies” to the SLM, II (August 1836), 571-572. Mrs. Hale, then editor of the Ladies’ Magazine, Boston, became an editor of Godey's Lady's Book when her magazine was merged with his in 1837 (Quinn, Poe, p. 269). Though the above letter is the first extant one between Poe and Mrs. Hale, there may have been at least two earlier ones: (1) a note to her as editor of the Ladies’ Magazine, similar to that sent to Neal, accompanying “Heaven” (see Note 21), and to Willis, who reviewed “Heaven” in the American Monthly Magazine, I (November 1829), 587 (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 155-156); (2) an unpublished scratch note (original in the Merrill Griswold collection, Boston), which contains, besides other items, almost a copy of Mrs. Hale's review of “Al Aaraaf” in the Ladies’ Magazine, In (January 1830), 47 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 165), but also has at the head of the scratch notes “Dr Madam.” Existence of the full letter, if written, is unknown. Mrs. Hale's son, David E. Hale, had known Poe at West Point, to whom, on one occasion, he had conveyed some message from his mother (see letter of David Hale to Mrs. Hale, February 10, 1831, in Quinn, Poe, p. 171). David Hale's concern about the autograph was due to Poe's use of Mrs. Hale's in the “Chapter on Autography” in the SLM, II (February and August 1836).

76 ⇒ TO ALLAN B. MAGRUDER [January 9, 1837] [CL-168]

Richmond, January 9, 1837.

My Dear Sir,

Your kind letter of Christmas eve was duly received — with the Essay. I have read it with great pleasure and, I confess, some degree of surprise — Never having suspected you of any literary designs. It shall certainly appear, entire, in the February number of the Messenger. Any supervision on my part, I perceive, would be altogether superfluous.

I must apologize for not having made you a reply before. Ill health [page 107:] and a weight of various and harassing business will prove, I trust, a sufficient excuse.

With sincere friendship and esteem,

I am yours, &c.,

Edgar A. Poe

Allan B. Magruder, Esq.

Allan B. Magruder became a lawyer and writer, and lived for some time in Charlottesville, Virginia. His daughter Julia became a writer of some prominence. (Woodberry, I, 70, seems to have confused General John B. Magruder with the present correspondent.) T. W. White, publisher of the SLM, refused to print the essay, though Poe seems to have had it set in type (see White to Poe, January 17, 1837, in H, XVII, 41-42). According to White in a letter to William Scott, January 23, 1837, “Mr. Poe retired from the editorship of my work on the 3d inst. I am once more at the head of affairs” (MS. in Middlebury College Library); but Poe seems to have been in Richmond as late as January 19 (see White to Beverley Tucker, of that date, in Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 111-112), perhaps later.

** [[replace Letter 76 from 66 supplement]] **

** [[include Letter 75a and 75b from 74 supplement]] **




In the original printing, an unusal special character is used between the number of the letter and the text describing the correspondents. In the current presentation, this special character has been rendered as a double right-pointing arrow. For the sake of the reader, the line that identifies a letter is given in a larger font, and in bold. The date of the letter, the letter number and check list number have also been added.


[S:0 - OLT66, 1966] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (J. W. Ostrom) (Letters: Chapter II)