Text: John Ward Ostrom, “Letters: Chapter III,” The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (1966), pp. 109-133 (This material is protected by copyright)


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77 ⇒ TO WILLIAM H. CARPENTER, J. S. NORRIS, AND JAMES BROWN [February 28, 1837] [CL 173]

New York, Feb. 28, 1837

To W. H. Carpenter[,] J. S. Norris[,] James Brown

It would give me the greatest pleasure to aid you in your design of a “Baltimore Book” and I would be quite willing to forward an article by the 1st April if so late a period would answer. I am afraid my other engagements would not admit of my sending anything at an earlier date.

I would like to be informed (by return of mail, if possible) what number of pages will be open for me — also what will be the form, etc., of the book, and should like some hint of the nature of the article or articles desired, with any other particulars. In the meantime, I will prepare something in case the theme should be left to my own choice.

Very resp’ly, gentlemen,

Yr. ob. st.

Edgar A. Poe.

W. H. Carpenter and T. S. Arthur edited The Baltimore Book of 1838, in which appeared Poe’s “Siope — A Fable.” It seems reasonable to suppose that Carpenter answered the present letter, though the reply must be lost. [CL 173]

78 ⇒ TO NATHAN C. BROOKS [September 4, 1838] [CL 178]

Philadelphia, September 4, 1838.

My Dear Sir:

I duly received your favor with the $10. Touching the review, I am forced to decline it just now. I should be most unwilling not to execute such a task well, and this I would not do at so short notice, at least now. I have two other engagements which it would be ruinous to defer. Besides this, I am just leaving Arch street for a small house, and, of course, somewhat in confusion.

My main reason, however, for declining is what I first alleged, viz.: I could not do the review well at short notice. The truth is, I can [page 112:] hardly say that I am conversant with Irving’s writings, having read nothing of his since I was a boy, save his “Granada.” It would be necessary to give his entire works a reperusal. You see, therefore, the difficulty at once. It is a theme upon which I would like very much to write, for there is a vast deal to be said upon it. Irving is much overrated, and a nice distinction might be drawn between his just and his surreptitious and adventitious reputation — between what is due to the pioneer solely, and what to the writer.

The merit, too, of his tame propriety and faultlessness of style should, be candidly weighed. He should be compared with Addison, something being hinted about imitation, and Sir Roger de Coverly should be brought up in judgment. A bold and a priori investigation of Irving’s claims would strike home, take my word for it. The American literary world never saw anything of the kind yet. Seeing, therefore, the opportunity of making a fine hit, I am unwilling to hazard your fame by a failure, and a failure would assuredly be the event were I to undertake the task at present.

The difficulty with you is nothing — for I fancy you are conversant with Irving’s works, old and new, and would not have to read for the task. Had you spoken decidedly when I first saw you, I would have adventured. If you can delay the “Review” until the second number I would be most happy to do my best. But this, I presume, is impossible.

I have gotten nearly out of my late embarrassments. Neilson would not aid me, being much pushed himself. He would, no doubt, have aided me, if possible. Present my respects if you see him.

Very truly yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

Suppose you send me proofs of my articles; it might be as well — that is, if you have time. I look anxiously for the first number, from which I date the dawn of a fine literary day in Baltimore.

After the 15th I shall be more at leisure and will be happy to do you any literary service in my power. You have but to hint.


Brooks started the American Museum of Literature and the Arts in Baltimore in September 1838 (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 345). Poe contributed “Ligeia” to the first number; “The [page 113:] Psyche Zenobia” and “The Scythe of Time” to the November number; “Literary Small Talk” to the January and February 1839 numbers; and “The Haunted Palace” to the April 1839, number. The magazine died with the June issue, 1839 (see the note to Letter 81 ). The $10 was undoubtedly payment for “Ligeia,” at about eighty cents a page. Despite Poe’s statement about not having read Irving, he had reviewed Astoria (SLM, January 1837) and before that The Crayon Miscellany (SLM, December 1835). Brooks wrote the review of Irving’s works for the first number of the Museum. [CL 178]

79 ⇒ TO GEORGE POE [July 14, 1839] [CL192]

[Philadelphia] July 14, 1839

[...  . .]

There can be no doubt, I think, that our family is originally German, as the name indicates it; it is frequently met with in German works on Natural History, and a Mr. Poe is now living in Vienna, who has much reputation as a naturalist. The name there is spelled with an accent, thus, Poé, and is pronounced in two syllables, ‘Po-a.’ As far back, however, as we can trace, our immediate progenitors are Irish...  .

John Poe about a century ago was a name of much note in the financial history of Ireland; he was of ancient and noble family, and married the sister of the British Admiral McBride, himself of illustrious descent...  .

[Signature missing]

Poe’s German ancestry is uncertain; but John Poe was his great-grandfather, and he was the son of a tenant-farmer in Dring, Ireland (see Quinn, Poe, p. 13). John Poe came to America about 1750, and settled first in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and later in Baltimore, where he died in 1756 (ibid., p. 14). [CL 192]

80 ⇒ TO J. BEAUCHAMP JONES [August 8, 1839] [CL 195]

Philadelphia August 8th 1839

My Dear Sir,

I have just received your favor of the 6th, and thank you sincerely for the friendly interest you manifest in my behalf. At some future time I hope to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance. [page 114:]

In the Sun of the 6th I saw the paragraph to which you allude — the other attacks have not met my notice. I would be much obliged to you if you could make it convenient to procure me the paper or papers, and forward them to me by mail — or, if this cannot be done, would it be too much to ask you to transcribe the passages referred to, and send them in a letter?

I presume it is the “Athenaeum” which has honoured me with its ill-nature. I notice nothing in the Republican, Chronicle, American, or Patriot.

It is always desirable to know who are our enemies, and what are the nature of their attacks.

I intend to put up with nothing that I can put down (excuse the pun) and I am not aware that there is any one in Baltimore whom I have particular reason to fear in a regular set-to.

I would take it as a great favor if you would let me know who edits the “Sun” — also who are the editors of the other papers attacking me-and should be thankful for any other similar information.

You speak of “enemies” — could you give me their names? All the literary people in Baltimore, as far as I know them, have at least professed a friendship.

Very truly Yr Ob. St

E A Poe (over

[page 2]

[I presume the “Sun” has expressed the opinion that the August No: of the Mag: is not well edited, because it has been more than usually praised in this respect. No number ever issued from this office has recd. 1/4 of the approbation which this has elicited. We are run down with puffs especially from the North...  . Here lies the true secret of the spleen of the little fish.]

J. Beauchamp Jones, born in 1810, was a Baltimore journalist. During the Civil War he was a government employee in Richmond, and in 1866 published his experiences: A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary of the Confederate States Capital (see The Collector, cited in Note 80). Apparently Poe and Jones never met. In June Poe had become associated with Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, and the August number contained a number of Poe’s writings. [CL 195] [page 115:]

81 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [September 21, 1839] [CL 198]

Philadel: Sep. 11, [1839]

My Dear Sir,

I have to thank you for your friendly attention in forwarding the St Louis “Bulletin”. I was the more gratified, as the reception of the paper convinced me that you, of whom I have long thought highly, had no share in the feelings of ill will towards me, which are somewhat prevalent (God only knows why) in Balt:

I should be very much pleased if you would write, and let me know the Balt. news — especially about yourself and Mr Brooks, and the fate of the “Museum”.

I have now a great favor to ask — and [th]ink that I may depend upon you[r] friendship. It is to write a [not]ice (such as you think rigidly jus[t] — no more) of the Sep: no of the [Gen]t’s Mag: embodying in your art[icl]e the passage concerning myse[lf], from the St Louis Bulletin — in an[y] manner which your good tas[te] may suggest. The critique when written might be handed to Neilson Poe. If you ask him to insert it editorially, it is possible he may do it — but, in fact, I have no great faith in him. If he refuses — then upon your stating the fact to Mr Harker of the “Republican” — you will secure its insertion there. If you will do me this great favor, depend upon any similar good office from me, “upon demand”.

I am about to publish my tales collectively — [an]d shall be happy to send you an early [copy. I append the extract from] the Bulletin.

“The general tone [& character of this work (The S. L. Messenger) ] impart lustre to our perio[dical literature; and we really congratulate] its publisher upon the so[und and steadfast popularity which it] has acquired. Let it [never be forgotten, however, that the first] impetus to the favor [of literary men which it received was] [page 2] given by the glowing pen of Edgar A Poe now assistant editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine; and, although, since he has left it, has well maintained its claims to respectability, yet there are few writers in this country — take Neal, Irving, & Willis away and we would say none — who can compete successfully, in many respects, with Poe. With an acuteness of observation, a vigorous and effective style, and [page 116:] an independence that defies control, he unites a [fervid] fancy and a most beautiful enthusiasm. His is a high destiny.”

Will you be kind enough to drop me a line in reply [?]

Yours sincerely

Edgar A Poe.

J. E. Snodgrass, Esqr

Did you see the “Weekly Mess[en]ger” (Alexander’s) or Noah’s Evening Star? They spoke highl[y] of my tale — “The House of Usher”. — as also the Pennsylvanian & The U.S. Gazette of this city.

P.S. I have made a profitable engagement with Blackwoods’ Mag: and my forthcoming Tales are promised a very commendatory Review in that journal from the pen of Prof. Wilson. Keep this a secret, if you please, for the present.

[Can you not send us some]thing for the Gents’ Mag? [Do you know anything of the Pittsbur]g Literary Examiner? [I wrote for it a review of Tortesa in its] 3d no — but have [not yet recd. No 4.]

[All the criticisms in the Mag: are mine] with the exception of the 3 first.

The MS. of this letter is much damaged; all restorations have been made from a collation with William Hand Browne’s original transcript made for Ingram. Joseph Evans Snodgrass, a Baltimore physician and minor literary figure, had known Poe probably since Poe’s association with the “City of Monuments,” 1831-1835. With Nathan C. Brooks, he edited the American Museum of Science, Literature and the Arts in 1839, and became proprietor of the Saturday Visiter about 1842, probably after being associated with it editorially from late in 1839, and contributed essays and poems to Burton’s, Graham’s, Godey’s, and the SLM. He attended Poe during his last illness in Baltimore and was present at his burial. Eighteen years later he wrote “The Facts of Poe’s Death and Burial” for Beadle’s Monthly. The Museum died in May 1839. Brooks’s editorial farewell, dated May 16, 1839, and printed at the end of the last issue, announced the passing of the editorship to Snodgrass, but Snodgrass printed just below Brooks’s announcement that financial inducements more interesting called him elsewhere. L. A. Wilmer, in Our Press Gang, pp. 22-29, says that Snodgrass succeeded T. S. Arthur as publisher of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, but allowed it to die soon after, that is, late in 1839 or early 1840; however, Snodgrass was proprietor of the Visiter at the time of Poe’s letter to him, June 4, 1842 (Letter 137). Snodgrass wrote the “puff” for Poe (see Letter 84). Samuel Harker was editor of the Baltimore Republican (see D. K. Jackson, “Four Poe Critiques,” Modern Language Notes, I, [page 117:] 252). In his letter to F. W. Thomas, November 23, x840, Poe says that the St. Louis Bulletin “has always been very kind to me, and I am at a loss to know who edits it”; but in “Autography” in Graham’s, December 1841 (see H, XV, 237), Poe identifies G. G. Foster as the editor. Charles Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (January 1836?-1848; see Mott, History of American Magazines, 1, 803) was published in Philadelphia, and to its December 18, 1839, number Poe contributed “Enigmatical and Conundrum-ical” that included his offer to solve cryptograms submitted by the readers (see Quinn, Poe, p. 326). For Poe’s “profitable engagement with Blackwoods’ Mag:” see Letter 95. The Pittsburgh Literary Examiner, edited by E. Burke Fisher and W. H. Burleigh, was first issued in May 1839; it seems not to have died with the July issue, but later became the Examiner and Hesperian, though this lasted only until February 1840 (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 390). Poe wrote two articles for the Examiner: the review of Tortesa, I (July 1839), 209-213; and an article on American novel writing, I (August 1839), 316-320 — both were unsigned. Dr. Thomas O. Mabbott first identified Poe’s authorship of the second contribution; the material of which was extensively reused in Poe’s review of “The Quacks of Helicon,” in Graham’s, August 1841 (reprinted in H, X, 182-195). Poe’s discussion of the novel was to serve as an introduction to a series of papers; the first was to have been on Charles Brockden Brown. The first volume of the Examiner is in the New York Historical Society, and includes the numbers May-December 1839. In connection with request for puffs to be inserted in the Baltimore papers, see Letter 80. [CL 198 ]

82 ⇒ TO PHILIP P. COOKE [September 21, 1839] [CL 203]

Philadelphia, September 21, 1839.

My Dear Sir:

I received your letter this morning — and read it with more pleasure than I can well express. You wrong me, indeed, in supposing that I meant one word of mere flattery in what I said. I have an inveterate habit of speaking the truth — and had I not valued your opinion more highly than that of any man in America I should not have written you as I did.

I say that I read your letter with delight. In fact I am aware of no delight greater than that of feeling one’s self appreciated (in such wild matters as “Ligeia”) by those 1n whose judgment one has faith. You read my inmost spirit “like a book,” and with the single exception of D’Israeli, I have had communication with no other person who [page 118:] does. Willis had a glimpse of it — Judge Tucker saw about one half way through — but your ideas are the very echo of my own. I am very far from meaning to flatter — I am flattered and honored. Beside me is now lying a letter from Washington Irving in which he speaks with enthusiasm of a late tale of mine, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” — and in which he promises to make his opinion public, upon the first opportunity, — but from the bottom of my heart I assure you, I regard his best word as but dust in the balance when weighed with those discriminating opinions of your own, which teach me that you feel and perceive.

Touching “Ligeia” you are right — all right — throughout. The gradual perception of the fact that Ligeia lives again in the person of Rowena is a far loftier and more thrilling idea than the one I have embodied. It offers in my opinion, the widest possible scope to the imagination — it might be rendered even sublime. And this idea was mine — had I never written before I should have adopted it — but then there is “Morello.” Do you remember there the gradual conviction on the part of the parent that the spirit of the first Morella tenants the person of the second? It was necessary, since “Morello” was written, to modify “Ligeia.” I was forced to be content with a sudden half-consciousness, on the part of the narrator, that Ligeia stood before him. One point I have not fully carried out — I should have intimated that the will did not perfect its intention — there should have been a relapse — a final one — and Ligeia (who had only succeeded in so much as to convey an idea of the truth to the narrator) should be at length entombed as Rowena — the bodily alterations having gradually faded away.

But since “Morello” is upon record I will suffer “Ligeia” to remain as it is. Your word that it is “intelligible” suffices — and your commentary sustains your word. As for the mob — let them talk on. I should be grieved if I thought they comprehended me here. The “saith Verulam” shall be put right — your “impertinence” is quite pertinent.

I send the “Gentleman’s Magazine” (July, August, September). Do not think of subscribing. The criticisms are not worth your notice. Of course I pay no attention to them — for there are two of us. It is not pleasant to be taxed with the twaddle of other people, or to let other people be taxed with ours. Therefore for the present I remain upon my oars — merely penning an occasional paragraph, [page 119:] without care. The critiques, such as they are, are all mine in the July number and all mine in the August and September with the exception of the three first in each — which are by Burton. As soon as Fate allows I will have a Magazine of my own — and will endeavor to kick up a dust. Do you ever see the “Pittsburg Examiner” (a New Monthly) ? I wrote a Review of “Tortesa,” at some length in the July number. In the October number of the “Gentleman’s Magazine,” I will have “William Wilson” from “The Gift” for 1840. This tale I think you will like — it is perhaps the best, although not the last, I have done. During the autumn I will publish all in two volumes — and now I have done with my egoism.

It makes me laugh to hear you speaking about “romantic young persons” as of a race with whom, for the future, you have nothing to do. You need not attempt to shake off or to banter off Romance. It is an evil you will never get rid of to the end of your days. It is a part of yourself — a portion of your soul. Age will only mellow it a little, and give it a holier tone. I will give your contributions a hearty welcome, and the choicest position in the magazine.

Sincerely yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

No correspondence between Isaac D’Israeli and Poe is extant, though the above reference implies at least one letter. No correspondence between Willis and Poe at this time is extant. For the reference to Beverley Tucker, see Tucker to T. W. White, November 29, 1835 (James Southall Wilson, “Unpublished Letters of Edgar Allan Poe,” Century Magazine, CVII (March 1924), 652-653); see also Letter 52, in which Poe implies having received a letter (?) (unlocated) from Cooke giving an intelligent criticism and appreciation of certain tales published by Poe in the SLM. For the reference to Irving, see the note to Letter 113. Poe’s “To Ianthe in Heaven” appeared in the July number of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine; his “The Man That Was Used Up,” in August; his “The Fall of the House of Usher,” in September; and his “Morello,” in November, reprinted from the SLM, April 1835. “The Pittsburg Examiner” was E. Burke Fisher’s Literary Examiner and Monthly Review (see Letter 81 and notes); Poe also reviewed Willis’s Tortesa in Burton’s, August 1839. The 1840 Gift had been copyrighted May 1839. For Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (December 1839), see the note to Letter 87. Cooke’s answer of December 19, 1839 (MS. in the Boston Public Library; unprinted in full) implies a follow-up letter (unlocated) to Poe’s present one. [CL 203] [page 120:]

83 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [October 7, 1839] [CL 209]

Phil: Oct: 7, 39

My dear Sir

I recd your kind letter and now write a few hasty words in reply, merely to thank you for your exertions in my behalf, and to say that I send today, the Octo. No. 2. We have been delayed with it, for various reasons.

I felt that N. Poe, would not insert the article editorially. In your private ear, I believe him to be the bitterest enemy I have in the world. He is the more despicable in this, since he makes loud professions of friendship. Was it “relationship &c.” which prevented him saying any thing at all of the 2 or 3 last Nos. of the Gents’ Mag? I cannot account for his hostility except in being vain enough to imagine him jealous of the little literary reputation I have, of late years, obtained. But enough of the little dog.

I sincerely thank you for the interest you have taken in my well-doing. The friendship of a man of talent, who is at the same time a man of honorable feeling, is especially valuable in these days of double dealing. I hope I shall always deserve your good opinion.

In the Octo. no: all the criticisms are mine — also the gymnastic article.

My book will be out in the begg of No.r

In haste, yours most truly

Edgar A Poe

Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.

Have you any of the Nos: of the S.Lit. Mess.r from No 7, vol I — to No 6. vol 2? both inclusive. Or do you know anyone who has them?

Poe’s strong charge against Neilson Poe here is a more outspoken attack than that in Letter 81; it was prompted, perhaps, by Neilson’s objections, on certain grounds, to Edgar’s marriage to Virginia Clemm, and by Poe’s feeling that Neilson, as editor of a Baltimore daily (H, XVII, 70), could assist in building up Poe’s reputation but would not. The “gymnastic article” was entitled “A Chapter on Field Sports and Manly Pastimes,” and was the fourth number in a series that began in the July issue and ended in the December number; it was anonymous. Poe’s “book,” Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, was published in December 1839 (see Letter 87 and notes). The issues of the SLM requested [page 121:] by Poe included those from March 1835 (vol. I, no. 7) through May 1836 (vol. II, no. 6), and contained, besides other contributions, thir teen of his tales: “Berenice,” “Morella,” “Lionizing,” “Hans Phaal,” “Bon-Bon,” “Loss of Breath,” “King Pest the First,” “Shadow. A Fable,” “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “Metzengerstein,” “Duc de L’Omelette,” “Epimanes,” and “A Tale of Jerusalem.” [CL 209]

84 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [November 11, 1839] [CL 216]

Nov: 11th Phil. [1839]

My Dear Sir,

I was much pleased this morning by the reception of two letters from you — one of which, I presume, has been lying perdu in the P. Office for some 10 days — but the Post did not come to hand at all, or, possibly, may have been mislaid among our daily cargo of mailpapers. I have, however, just succeeded in seeing your critique on file in a friend’s office — and have to thank you very sincerely for your kindness. The only fault I find is that you say altogether too much in my favor. You have overwhelmed me with praise — much of which I truly feel is undeserved. I regret too that you did not preserve the proper order of your initials — I should have been proud of the authority of your name.

I am sure you will be pleased to hear that Washington Irving has addressed me 2 letters, abounding in high passages of compliment in regard to my Tales — passages which he desires me to make public — if I think benefit may be derived. It is needless to say that I shall do so — it is a duty I owe myself — and which it would be wilful folly to neglect, through a false sense of modesty. L & Blanchard also urge the publication upon me — so the passages referred to, with others of a similar nature from Paulding, Anthon, &c will be printed in an Appendix of Advertisement to the book — such as publishers are in the habit of appending. Irving’s name will afford me a complete triumph over those little critics who would endeavor to put me down by raising the hue & cry of exaggeration in style, of Germanism & such twaddle. You know Irving heads the school of the quietists. I tell you these things in [page 2] all confidence, & because I think you will be pleased to hear of my well-doing — not, I assure you, in any spirit of vain-glory — a feeling which I am above.

It grieves me much that I can say not a word touching compensation for articles in Maga. The intense pressure has obliged Mr B. [page 122:] with nearly every, if not with every, publisher in the country, to discontinue paying for contributions. Mr B. pays for nothing — and we are forced to fill up as we can. You know that I appreciate your talents and did we pay at all your writings would command in my judgment the highest price. Could we get them, for a while, gratis, how gladly would I use them! — but this is requesting too much.

I have never received the nos of the Museum since the one containing my “Small Talk” — if you have the remaining nos to spare, I would be glad to make my set complete.

I regret that you have not received the Gents’ Mag: with regularity — but the fault is my own — as I neglected to have your name put upon the free list; an oversight which I hasten to remedy:

With high respect & sincere esteem

Your friend.

Edgar A Poe

Regarding Irving’s two letters, see Letter 113, and notes; Poe is overemphasizing Irving’s praise of “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson,” and the passage of compliment, which Poe says Irving wants him to publish, is not to be found in the November 6 letter (cited in Note 84), though it may have been in the earlier, location of which is unknown. Known correspondence of this period does not confirm Poe’s implication that James K. Paulding and Charles Anthon wrote Poe in praise of his tales, but Poe may be alluding to Paulding’s letter of March 17, 1836 (see H, XVII, 31-32). “Small Talk” appeared in the January and February 1839 issues of the American Museum, edited by Nathan C. Brooks and Joseph E. Snodgrass (see title page, volume two) and published in Baltimore’ (also see Letter 90 and notes). To the American Museum, Poe also contributed: “Ligeia” (September), “The Psyche Zenobia” with the pendant “The Scythe of Time” (November), and “The Haunted Palace” (April); the magazine ran only from September 1838, to June 1839, a total of ten issues (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 345). [CL 216]

85 ⇒ TO JOHN C. Cox [December 6, 1839] [CL 221]

Philadelphia, Dec: 6. 1839

Mr Jno. C. Cox

My Dear Sir,

I am really afraid you will think me the most ungrateful person in the world; as I have not only failed to return you the money so [page 123:] kindly lent nearly a year ago but have never even seen you since, to apologise for my failure. Still, in the face of all appearances, you would be wrong in supposing that I am not deeply sensible of your kindness, and that I do not always bear it in mind. The simple truth is, that the mortification I feel in not being able to repay you, has been the reason of my not calling upon you. From week to week, and from day to day, I have been living in the hope of getting the means of payment, and of calling upon you with the $50 and the apology at once — but my greatest exertions have been in vain; and it was only with the most painful sacrifices that I managed to pay Mrs Jones — which I did about last Christmas. I trust, however, that this state of things cannot last long, and that I shall now soon have it in my power to discharge the claim.

It would give me the most sincere pleasure if you could make it convenient to come & see us. We are still where we were. I could then speak to you more fully, and convince you that the embarrasments under which I have labored are not exaggerated.

Mess. Lea & Blanchard have just issued two vols of Tales, by myself; and may I beg of you to accept a copy with my kindest regards? It would give me great pleasure to hear from you.

Yours most truly,

Edgar A Poe

The identity of Cox is unknown. Mrs. Jones may have been the landlady from whom Poe, Virginia, and Mrs. Clemm rented rooms at 127 Arch Street (see Quinn, Poe, p. 273, for the number of the street). Apparently Poe was living in a small house on Sixteenth Street, to which he went from the Arch Street quarters late in 1838 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 273). Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (2 vols.) were published by Lea and Blanchard in Philadelphia, December 1839, as evidenced by this letter, but with an 1840 dating. No reply by Cox is known. [CL 221]

86 ⇒ TO E. L. CAREY OR JOHN HART [December 9, 1839] [CL 222]


Dr Sir,

Mr Burton mentioned to me, before going to Charleston, that you were good enough to promise him a Chapter from Marryatt’s forthcoming [page 124:] work, for the Jan: No. of our Mag: The Chapter was, I believe, one on “Migration & Emigration”. Will you please let me have it, if convenient, by the bearer?


E A. Poe

Mr Carey or Mr Hart.

Dec 9. [1839]

No such chapter by Captain Marryat appeared in Burton’s for January, February, or March 1840; there is, however, a review of his Diary in America, First and Second Parts (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, and T. K. and G. P. Collins) in Burton’s, VI (February 1840), 103-105, but apparently not written by Poe. Captain Frederick Marryat’s novel Joseph Rushbrook was reviewed by Poe in Graham’s, September 1841 (reprinted in H, X, 197-202). [CL 222]

87 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [December 12, 1839] [CL 223]

My dear Sir,

I have the pleasure of sending you, through Mess. Lea & Blanchard, a copy of my tales. Not knowing what better plan to pursue, I have addressed the package to you “at the office of the Baltimore American.” Will you get it? In the same package is a copy for Mr Carey of the American, which I must beg you to deliver to him with my respects. I have not the pleasure of knowing him personally — but entertain a high opinion of his talents. Please write his full name in his copy”with the author’s respects” — as I forget his praenomen.

I do not believe that Lea & B. have sent any of the books to Baltimore as yet — will you be kind enough to forward me any Bal. papers which may contain notices.

Very truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

Dr. J. Evans Snodgrass

Phil: 12 [December] 1839

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1840) carried an 1840 dating, but were out by December 6, 1839 (see Letter 85). Lea and Blanchard wrote Poe (September 28, 1839, MS. in the Boston Public Library) that 750 copies were to be printed. Woodberry (II, 376) read the figure correctly. Quinn, [page 125:] Poe, p. 287, prints 1750. Figures quoted by Charvat in Publishers’ Weekly for November 23, 1946, p. 2958, show conclusively that the correct reading is 750. John L. Carey of the Baltimore American was the author of Domestic Slavery (see Letter 90, and note). [CL 223]

88 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [December 19, 1839] [CL 225]

Philadelphia. Dec: 19. 1839

My dear Snodgrass,

I presume that upon the 16th (the date of postmark of your last letter) you received my own dated 2 days before, in which I mentioned having forwarded 2 copies of the “Grotesque & Arab:” one for yourself & one for Mr. Carey. You will therefore, ere this, have acquitted me of forgetfulness or neglect.

Touching the Premiums. The Advertisement respecting them was written by Mr. Burton, and is not, I think as explicit as might [be.] I can give you no information about their desig[nation furth]er than is shown in the advertisement itself. The tru[th is,] I object, in toto, to the whole scheme. — but merely follow[ed in] Mr. B’s wake upon such matters of business.

Either of your projected Essays would be, (as you could do it) a good thing — either that upon American Literature, or upon the Hints of Science as connected with every-day life. The latter would, of course, be entirely re-modelled, so as to look new.

I am sorry to say that I have been unable to get the “Scenes of Childhood”, in the January number, which is now ready — but it shall appear in our next. If you look over our columns you will see that we only put in poetry in the odds and ends of our pages — that is, to fill out a vacancy left at the foot of a prose article — so that the length of a poem often determines its insertion. Yours could not be brôt to fit in and was obliged to be left out.

If you see any of the Bal. papers notice my Tales, will you try and forward them, especially the weeklies which I never see.

The Philadelphians have given me the very highest possible praise — I cd desire nothing further. Have you seen the U.S. Gazette, the Pennsylvanian, or Alexander’s Messenger. In the last is a notice by Professor Frost, which I forward you, today, with this. The books have just reached New York. The Star and the Evening Post have both capital notices. There is also a promise of one in the New-World — [page 120:] Benjamin’s paper — which I am anxious to see — for, praise or blame, I have a high op[inion of] that man’s ability.

Do not forget to forward [me] the notices — if any appear.

Believe me I am truly yours

Edgar A Poe.

Write soon.

P.S. None of my books have been sent to Richmond as yet — for I am happy to say that the edition is already very nearly exhausted.

Regarding Burton’s offer of premiums for contributions to the Gentleman’s, see Letter 95. For “Scenes of Childhood,” see Letter 90. John Frost, a professor of belles-lettres in the high school in Philadelphia, is included in Poe’s “Autography,” Graham’s, December 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 242-243). The New World, a monster folio fiction weekly, edited by Park Benjamin and Rufus W. Griswold, did not appear until June 6, 1840 (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 359-360). Poe’s postscript was based upon a misapprehension, for on August 16, 1841, Lea and Blanchard, his publishers, wrote him that the 1840 edition of the Tales had neither “been got through,” nor returned the expense of publication (original MS. in Boston Public library). [CL 225]

89 ⇒ TO JOSEPH B. BOYD [December 25, 1839] [CL 227]

Philadelphia, Dec 25th 1839.

Dr Sir,

I have only to urge a world of pressing engagements as an excuse for not sooner attending to your very flattering request of November the fifteenth. It will now give me great pleasure to copy, as you desire, one of my own poems — selecting a Sonnet for brevity’s sake.

Silence — A Sonnet.

There are some qualities — some incorporate things —

That have a double life — life aptly made

The type of that twin entity which springs

From matter and light — evinced in solid and shade.


There is a two-fold Silence — sea and shore —

Body and soul. One dwells in desert places

Newly with grass oergrown. Some solemn graces,

Some human memories (a tearful lore)

Render him terrorless — his name’s “No More”. [page 127:]


He is the corporate Silence — dread him not.

No power hath he of evil in himself.

But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)

Bring thee to meet his shadow — (nameless elf,

Who haunteth the dim regions where hath trod

No foot of man) — commend thyself to God!

With every sentiment of respect,

I am Yr Obt St

Edgar A Poe.

To Joseph B. Boyd, Esquire,

Cincinnati, Ohio.

Concerning Joseph B. Boyd, see Letter 100 and note. A comparison of the present version of the poem with that printed in Campbell, Poems, pp. 104-105, will show variations in a few words and in punctuation. The poem was first published in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, January 4, 1840. [CL 227]

90 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [January 20, 1840] [CL 229]

Philadelphia Jan: 20. 1840

My dear Sir

I seize the opportunity afforded me by a temporary lull in a storm of business, to write you a few hurried words. Your last letter is not before me — but I refer to it in memory. I received the poem through Godey, and retain it as you desire. The “Friends of Childhood[“] is in type for the Feb. no: Mr. Carey’s book has not yet reached me. My own was forwarded by L & Blanchard to Joseph Robinson’s — so they assure me. I presume you have it before this.

I am obliged to decline saying anything of the “Museum” in the Gent’s Mag: however much I feel anxious to oblige yourself, and to express my own views. You will understand me when I say that I have no proprietary interest in the Mag: and that Mr Burton is a warm friend of Brooks — verb. sap. sat.

I have heard, indirectly, that an attempt is to be made by Some one of capital in Baltimore, to get up a Magazine. Have you heard anything of it? If you have, will you be kind enough to let me know all about it by return of mail — if you can spare the time to oblige [page 128:] me — I am particularly desirous of understanding how the matter stands — who are the parties, &c.

Excuse the abruptness of this letter, &

believe me very truly yours,

Edgar A Poe

Though Snodgrass’ name does not appear in the letter, his poem “Childhood Scenes” in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, February 1840, identifies Poe’s correspondent; Poe had called the poem “Scenes of Childhood” in his letter of December 19, 1839. John L. Carey (not Henry C. Carey, as Woodberry identified him) wrote Domestic Slavery; it was published anonymously in Baltimore, 1838, but carried his name as author in the second edition, 1839. (Henry Carey’s The Slave Trade was not published until 1853.) Concerning Poe’s receipt of the book and his unpublished review of it, see Letter 95. Joseph Robinson was probably a book dealer in Baltimore. Poe’s reference to the American Museum of Science, Literature and the Arts here is curious, for that magazine died in May, 1839, with the June number (see notes to Letter 81) ; he undoubtedly has reference to the Baltimore Saturday Visiter. Perhaps the demise of the Museum was attended by a misunderstanding between Snodgrass and Brooks, and Snodgrass’ bid for Poe’s editorial assistance in revitalizing the Visiter was frustrated by Burton’s friendship for Brooks. Poe’s abbreviation for verbum sat sapienti (est) means “A word to the wise (is) sufficient.” [CL 229]

91 ⇒ TO JOHN KEARSLEY MITCHELL [February 29, 1840] [CL 231]

[Philadelphia, February 29, 1840]

Dr Sir,

It will give me great pleasure to accept your invitation for Feb: 29th — this evening.

Edgar A Poe

Dr J. K. Mitchell

John Kearsley Mitchell, father of S. Weir Mitchell, was a prominent physician and lecturer at various Philadelphia medical institutes. He was also Poe’s physician. [CL 231]

92 ⇒ TO HIRAM HAINES [April 24, 1840] [CL 233]

Philadelphia Apri1, 24. 1840.

My Dear Sir,

Having been absent from the city for a fortnight I have only just received your kind letter of March 24th and hasten to thank you [page 129:] for the “Star”, as well as for your offer of the fawn for Mrs P. She desires me to thank you with all her heart — but, unhappily, I can not point out a mode of conveyance. What can be done? Perhaps some opportunity may offer itself hereafter — some friend from Petersburg may be about to pay us a visit. In the meantime accept our best acknowledgments, precisely as if the little fellow were already nibbling the grass before our windows in Philadelphia.

I will immediately attend to what you say respecting exchanges. The “Star” has my very best wishes, and if you really intend to push it with energy, there cannot be a doubt of its full success. If you can mention anything in the world that I can do here to promote its interests and your own, it will give me a true pleasure.

It is not impossible that I may pay you a visit in Petersburg, a month or two hence.

Till then, believe me,

most sincerely Your friend

Edgar A Poe

H. Haines Esqr

Office Gentleman’s Magazine

This letter is the last known to have been written by Poe to Haines. Haines’s letter of March 24, 1840, probably thanked Poe, also, for the “puff” of the Virginia Star which he wrote for Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (Philadelphia), March 18, 1840, p. 2, col. 4 (see Clarence S. Brigham, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, LII, Pt. I (April 1942), pp. 100-101). Dr. T. O. Mabbott informs me that Poe was “contributing to the [Weekly] Messenger regularly at this time.” There is no evidence that the fawn reached Philadelphia. Poe’s proposed visit to Petersburg undoubtedly concerned the establishment of the Penn Magazine. [CL 233]


[Philadelphia, June 1, 1840]


I find myself at leisure this Monday morning, June 1, to notice your very singular letter of Saturday. <I sent George home yesterday without a reply to your letter for I felt somewhat too angry to make one. I have followed the example of Victorine and slept upon the matter>. & you shall now hear what I have to say. In the first [page 130:] place — your attempts to bully me excite in my mind <nothing> scarcely any other sentiment than mirth. When you address me again preserve if you can, the dignity of a gentleman. If by accident you have taken it into your head <by any sad accident> that I am to be insulted with impunity I can only assume that you are an ass. This one point being distinctly understood <we shall be the better able to enter into some arrangement and in regard to myself individually> I shall feel myself more at liberty to be explicit. As for the rest, you do me gross injustice; and you know it. As usual you have wrought yourself into a passion with me on account of some imaginary wrong; for no real injury, or attempt at injury, have you ever received at my hands. As I live, I am utterly unable to say why you are angry, or what true grounds of complaint you have against me. You are a man of <high passions> impulses; have made yourself, in consequence, some enemies; have been in many respects ill treated by those whom you had looked upon as friends-and these things have rendered you suspicious. You once wrote in your magazine [a sharp critique] upon a book of mine — a [very silly book — Pym. Had I written a simi]lar critici[sm] upon a book of yours, you feel that you would [have been] my enemy for life, and you therefore ima[give in my] bosom a latent hostility towards yourself. This has been a mainspring in your whole conduct towards me since our first acquaintance. It has acted to prevent all cordiality. In a general view of human nature your idea is just-but you will find yourself puzzled in judging me by ordinary motives. Your criticism was essentially correct and therefore, although severe, it did not occasion in me one solitary emotion either of anger or dislike. But even while I write these words, I am sure you will not believe them. Did I not still think you, in spite of the exceeding littleness of some of your hurried actions, a man of many honorable impulses, I should not now take the trouble to send you this letter. I cannot permit myself to suppose that you would say to me in cool blood what you said in your letter of yesterday. You are, of course, only mistaken, in asserting that I owe you a hundred dollars, and you will rectify the mistake at once when you come to look at your accounts. Soon after I joined you, you made me an offer of money, and I accepted $20. Upon another occasion, at my request, you sent me enclosed in a letter $30. Of this 30, I repaid 20 within the next fortnight (drawing no salary for that period.) I was thus still in your debt $30, when not long ago I again [page 131:] asked a loan of $30, which you promptly handed to me at your own house. Within the last 3 weeks, 3 $ each week have been retained from my salary, an indignity which I have felt deeply but did not resent. You state the sum retained as $8, but this I believe is through a mistake of Mr Morrell. My postage bill at a guess, might be 9 or 10 $ — and I therefore am indebted to you, upon the whole, in the amount of about $60. More than this sum I shall not pay. You state that you can no longer afford to pay $ 50 per month for 2 or 3 pp, of M.S. Your error here can be shown by reference to the [Magaz]ine. During my year with you I have writ[ten — ]

[in] July — 5 pp

August 9

Sept 16

Octo. 4

Nov. 5

Dec. 12

Jan 9

Feb 12

Mar 11

April 17+

May 14 + 5 copied — Miss McMichael, M.S.

June 9 + 3 “ Chandlers.



Dividing this sum by 12 we have an average of 11 pp per month — not 2 or 3. And this estimate leaves out of question everything in the way of extract or compilation. Nothing is counted but bona fiede composition. 11 pp. at $3 per p. would be $33, at the usual Magazine prices. Deduct this from $50, my monthly salary, and we have left 17$ per month, or $4 25/100 per week, for the services of proofreading; general superintendence at the printing-office; reading, alteration, & preparation of M.S.S., with compilation of various articles, such as Plate articles, Field Sports &c. Neither has anything been said of my name upon your title page, a small item you will say — but still something as you know. Snowden pays his editresses $2 per week each for their names solely. Upon the whole I am not willing to admit that you have greatly overpaid me. That I did not do 4 times as much as I did for the Magazine, was your own fault. At first I wrote long articles which you deemed inadmissable, & never did I suggest any [page 132:] to <you> which you had not some immediate and decided objection. Of course I grew discouraged & could feel no interest in the journal. I am at a loss to know why you call me selfish. If you mean that I borrowed money of you — you know that you offered it — <if > and you know that I am poor. In what instance has anyone ever found me selfish? Was there selfishness in the affront I offered Benjamin (whom I respect, and who spoke well of me) because I deemed it a duty not to receive from any one commendation at your expense? I had no hesitation in making him my enemy (which he now must be) through a sense of my obligations as your coadjutor. <No man can call me selfish & not he > I have said that I could not tell why you were angry. Place yourself in my situation & see whether you would not have acted as I have done. You first “enforced”, as you say, a deduction of salary: giving me to understand thereby that you thought of parting company — You next spoke disrespectfully of me behind my back — this as an habitual thing — to those whom you supposed your friends, and who punctually retailed me, as a matter of course, every ill-natured word which you uttered. Lastly you advertised your magazine for sale without saying a word to me about it. I felt no anger at what you did — none in the world. Had I not firmly believed it your design to give up your journal, with a view of attending to the Theatre, I should <never> have dreamed of attempting one of my own. The opportunity of doing something for myself seemed a good one — (I was about to be thrown out of business) — and I embraced it. Now I ask you as a man of honor and as a man of sense — what is there wrong in all this? What have I done at which you have any right to take offense? I can give you no definitive answer (respecting the continuation Rodman’s journal,) until I hear from you again. The charge of 100 $ I shall not admit for an instant. If you persist in it our intercourse is at an end, and <I shall refer you to an attorney, But I cannot bring myself to believe that you will.> We can each adopt our own measures

In the meantime,

I am Yr Obt St.

Edgar A Poe

Wm E. Burton Esqr.

“George” perhaps refers to Burton’s clerk, Morrell (see Letter 109). Burton’s, III (September 1838), 210-211, reviewed Pym (published by Harper & Brothers, July 1838, according to Quinn, Poe, p. 263); [page 133:] the criticism was derogatory and said, in part, “We regret to find Mr. Poe’s name in connexion with such a mass of ignorance and effrontery.” Poe’s listing of duties is supported by an unpublished letter from Burton to Poe, July 4, 1839 (original in the Boston Public Library), in which Burton, absent in New York, gives Poe orders concerning the August number and exhorts him to see that Morrell and the others get the issue out on time. Park Benjamin’s paper, the New World, mentioned by Poe on December 19, 1839 (see Letter 88), as if soon to be published, actually appeared in June 1840 (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 359). “Rodman’s journal” ran in Burton’s, vol. VI (January-June). Poe’s arithmetical error in compilation of work done for Burton may have been corrected in the letter actually sent; also Poe apparently counted as full pages those not quite full (see Hull, pp. 151-187). The content of Poe’s letter implies that Burton’s “letter of Saturday,” after making certain accusations against Poe, fired him, but asked about his continuing the “Journal of Julius Rodman” (see “... you can no longer afford to pay $5o per month ... ” and “I can give you no definitive answer [respecting ... Rodman’s journal] until I hear from you again.”); or the letter implies some new arrangement whereby Poe will not remain as a full salaried editor; in any event, Poe probably had not resigned when he received Burton’s letter. Burton probably answered Poe’s letter, and Poe then actually wrote his resignation (see Letter 95), or left Burton’s and let Snodgrass believe the resignation had been voluntary. Burton’s exclusion of reviews (cited in the letter to Snodgrass) may have been due, not to Poe’s resignation, but to matters set forth in Burton’s “Saturday letter.” [CL 235]




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 III)