Text: John Ward Ostrom, “Letters: Chapter IV,” The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (1966), pp. 135-194 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 135, unnumbered:]

IV

PHILADELPHIA

THE PENN AND GRAHAM’S MAGAZINE

June 1840 - March 1842

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[page 137, unnumbered:]

94 ⇒ TO JOHN NEAL [June 4 (3) 1840] [CL 237]

Philadelphia. June 4. [1840]

My Dear Sir

As you gave me the first jog in my literary career, you are in a measure bound to protect me & keep me rolling. I therefore now ask you to aid me with your influence, in whatever manner your experience shall suggest.

It strikes me that I never write you except to ask a favor, but my friend Thomas will assure you that I bear you always in mind — holding you in the highest respect and esteem.

Most truly yours

Edgar A Poe

John Neal Esqr

The “first jog” refers to Neal’s notices of Poe’s poems in The Yankee, September and December 1829. “Thomas” probably refers to Poe’s new friend Frederick W. Thomas, who might have known Neal in Baltimore (see the notes to Letter 104). [CL 237]

95 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [June 17, 1840] [CL 240]

Philadelphia June 17 [1840]

My dear Snodgrass,

Yours of the 12th was duly received but I have found it impossible to answer it before, owing to an unusual press of business which has positively not left me a moment to myself. Touching your Essay. Burton not only lies, but deliberately and wilfully lies; for the last time but one that I saw him I called his attention to the M.S. which was then at the top of a pile of other M.S.S. sent for premiums, in a drawer of the office desk. The last day I was in the office I saw the Essay in the same position, and I am perfectly sure it is there still. You know it is a peculiar looking M.S. and I could not mistake it. In saying it was not in his possession his sole design was to vex you, and through you myself. Were I in your place I would take some summary method of dealing with the scoundrel, whose infamous line of [page 138:] conduct in regard to this whole premium scheme merits, and shall receive exposure. I am firmly convinced that it was never his intention to pay one dollar of the money offered; and indeed his plain intimations to that effect, made to me personally and directly, were the immediate reasons of my cutting the connexion as abruptly as I did. If you could, in any way, spare the time to come on to Philadelphia, I think I could put you in the way of detecting this villain in his rascality. I would go down with you to the office, open the drawer in his presence, and take the M S. from beneath his very nose. I think this would be a good deed done, and would act as a caution to such literary swindlers in future. What think you of this plan? Will you come on? Write immediately in reply.

Mr. Carey’s book on slavery was received by me not very long ago, and in last month’s number I wrote, at some length, a criticism upon it, in which I endeavored to do justice to the author, whose talents I highly admire. But this critique, as well as some six or seven others, were refused admittance into the Magazine by Mr. Burton, upon his receiving my letter of resignation. [I] allude to the number for June — the one last issued. I fancy, moreover, that he has some private pique against Mr. Carey (as he has against every honest man) for not long ago he refused admission to a poetical address of his which I was anxious to publish.

Herewith you have my Prospectus. You will see that I have given myself sufficient time for preparation. I have every hope of success. As yet I have done nothing more than send a few Prospectuses to the Philadelphia editors, and it is rather early to strike — six months in anticipation. My object, at present, is merely to call attention to the contemplated design. In the meantime be assured that I am not idle — and that if there is any impossibility about the matter, it is the impossibility of not succeeding. The world is fond of novelty, and in being absolutely honest, I shall be utterly novel.

If you would show the Prospectus to Mr. Carey, or any other editorial friend, when you have done with it, I would be obliged to you. Touching my Tales, you will scarcely believe me when I tell you that I am ignorant of their fate, and have never spoken to the publishers concerning them since the day of their issue. I have cause to think, however, that the edition was exhausted almost immediately. It was only six weeks since that I had the opportunity I wished of sending a copy to Professor Wilson, so as to be sure of its reaching him directly. [page 139:] Of course I must wait some time yet for a notice, — if any there is to be.

Yours most truly

E A Poe

P.S. If you would enclose me Burton’s letter to yourself, I will take it as an especial favor.

Burton’s “lie” was given apparently in a letter to Snodgrass, cited in Poe’s postscript.

Concerning the premiums, see also Letter 88. There is no evidence that Snodgrass either went to Philadelphia or answered “immediately,” as Poe requested. For John L. Carey’s Domestic Slavery (2d. edition, 1839), see the note with Letter 90. Poe’s “unusual press of business” was in connection with his attempt to establish his Penn Magazine. Its publication was announced in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, June 13, 1840, to appear on January 1, 1841 (see reprint of prospectus in Quinn, Poe, pp. 306-308). Since Poe’s letter to Thomson, June 28, 1840, was written on the second leaf of the June 1840, prospectus (see other letters of this period for similar use of the prospectus), the present letter to Snodgrass was undoubtedly written on one of the blank pages of the advertisement; thus this evidence refutes Woodberry’s statement that the prospectus was sent to press in August (see W, I, 260), unless he referred to the revision of the June prospectus without recognizing the existence of the earlier one (see Quinn, Poe, p. 308). No correspondence is known between Lea and Blanchard’s letter of November 20, 1839 (see W, I, 225) and Poe’s, dated August 13, 1841, so that Poe may have had no knowledge concerning the sale of his Tales. Upon their publication, an edition of 750 copies, Poe was to keep the copyright (see MS. letter of Lea and Blanchard to Poe, September 18, in the Boston Public library) and receive about twenty copies for “private distribution” (see their letter to Poe, October 30, 1839, in W, II, 376); thus upon receipt of the complimentary copies, Poe had no need of further dealing with his publishers until August 15, 1841, when he suggested that they publish for him a new collection. A search of Blackwood’s Magazine, subsequent to the date of the present letter, failed to reveal any review of Poe’s Tales by John Wilson (“Christopher North”), editor of the English magazine, despite the postscript in Letter 81. [CL 240]

96 ⇒ TO CHARLES W. THOMSON [June 28, 1840] [CL 242]

[Philadelphia] June 28 [1840]

Dr Sir,

On Saturday evening I called twice to see you in relation to your note of the 26th, but had not the pleasure of finding you at home. [page 140:]

You may have heard that I have declined a farther connexion with the Gentleman’s Magazine, and propose to establish one of my own. By the Prospectus you will see that the first number will not be issued until the first of January; th[is] delay being rendered necessary by my want of capital. It is, therefore, at present, altogether out of my power to suggest any employment of the nature you designate.

Desperate as my chances of success may appear, where so many have failed with every advantage of money, and monied interest — still I feel a perfect certainty of accomplishing the task I have deliberately undertaken. I am proposing to myself, however, to form a connexion, as soon as possible, with some gentleman of literary attainments, who could at the same time advance as much ready money as will be requisite for the first steps of the undertaking — to defray, for instance, the expences of visiting the chief northern cities, of printing and distributing circulars, of advertising &c &c — items which, altogether, would demand scarcely $500. Upon receipt of your note the idea suggested itself that you might feel willing to join me in the enterprise, and, if so, there is nothing would give me greater pleasure. Will you let me hear from you upon this topic — if possible this afternoon?

Very Respy

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

C. W. Thompson Esqr

Charles West Thomson (Poe spelled it Thompson) contributed poems to the Southern Literary Messenger, the American Museum, Burton’s, Graham’s, and to annuals like the Atlantic Souvenir, the Token, and the Gift. With Burton he issued the Literary Souvenir for 1838 and 1839. He became an Episcopal minister in York, Pennsylvania. At the time of Poe’s letter he was a clerk in the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia (see Heartman and Canny, p. ;9). Poe’s “Autography” for December 1841, included Thomson (see H, XV, 226). Concerning Poe’s leaving Burton’s, see Letter 9; and notes. [CL 242]

97 ⇒ TO WILLIAM POE [August 14, 1840] [CL 245]

Philadelphia, Aug. 15 [14] — 40.

Dear William,

Owing to a temporary absence from town I did not receive your welcome letter of the 28th July until this morning. [I n]ow hasten [page 141:] to reply; and in the first place let me assur[e y]ou that, if I have not lately written, it is rather because I have been overwhelmed by worldly cares, which left me scarce a moment for thought, than that I do not feel for you the kindest affection, as well as deep gratitude for the services yourself and brothers have so often rendered me.

Herewith I send you a Prospectus of my contemplated Magazine. I believe you know that my connexion with the Southern Messenger was merely that of editor. I had no proprietary interest in it, and my movements were therefore much impeded[.] The situation was disagree[a]ble to me in every respect. The drudgery was excessive; the salary was contemptible. In fact I soon found that whatever reputation I might personally gain, this reputation would be all. I stood no chance of bettering my pecuniary condition, while my best energies were wasted in the service of an illiterate and vulgar, although well-meaning man, who had neither the capacity to appreciate my labors, nor the will to reward them. For these reasons I left him, and entered, first, into an engagement with The New-York Review, and afterwards with The Gentleman’s Mag[a]zine, writing occasionally for [other] journals; my object be[in]g merely to keep my head a[bove] water, as regards money, until a good opportunity sh[owed itself] of establishing a Magazine of my own, in which I sho[uld be] able to carry out my plans to full completion, and d[uring this] time have the satisfaction of feeling that my exertions w[ould be] to my own advantage.

I believe that the plans I here speak of, and some of [them you] will find detailed in the Prospectus, are well devised [... sug]gested, and will meet with the hearty support of the m[ore desi]rable and intelligent portion of the community. Should [I be] able to bring them fairly be[f]ore the public I feel assured [that my] fortune is made. The ambition which actuates me [is] now to be no ordinary nor unworthy sentiment, and, knowing this, I take pride in earnestly soliciting your support, and that of your brothers and friends. If I fully succeed in my purposes I will not fail to produce some lasting effect upon the growing literature of the country, while I establish for myself individually a name which that country “will not willingly let die.”

It is upon the South that I chiefly rely for aid in the undertaking, and I have every hope that it will not fail me [page 2] in my need. Yet the difficulties which I have to overcome are great, and I acknowledge [page 142:] to you that my prospects depend very much upon getting together a subscription list previously to the 1rst of December. If, by this day, I can obtain 500 names, the w[or]k cannot fail to proceed, and I have no fear for the [resu]lt.

The friendship you have always evinced, the near relationship which exists between us, and the kind offer in your last letter, all warrant me in hoping that you will exert your whole influence for me in Augusta. Will you oblige me by acting as my agent for the Penn Magazine in your city, this letter being your authority? If I am not mistaken you already act in that capacity for the Messenger.

I will write a few lines also by this mail to your brother Robert, with a Prospectus as you suggest — and also to Washington at Macon.

Mrs Clemm, my aunt, is still living with me, but for the last six weeks has been on a visit to a friend in the State of N. Jersey. She is quite well, having entirely recovered her health. Respecting the letter from Mr Bayard I am quite at a loss to understand it. It is, however, possible that the letter was written by Mr B. at a period when we were all in much difficulty in New-York & that Mrs C. concealed the circumstance from me through delicacy.

Yours truly EAP.

For White’s incapacity to appreciate Poe’s labors, see White to Tucker, April 26, 1837, in Jackson, Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 114-115: “If he [Paulding] would have been proud of praise from Poe, it would have been because he really admired the fellow’s talents. — Like myself he was completely gulled.” Caleb S. Henry, editor of the New York Review from March 1837 (the year it was founded), to some time in 1838, wrote to the Reverend J. H. Hopkins, who sent the letter to J. H. Ingram: “Poe was never engaged as a writer on the New York Review. He contributed of his own accord ... a review of Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Egypt, etc ... in the 2d number ... Oct. 1837” (this letter is now in the Ingram collection, University of Virginia, under the date of March 13, 1875). Poe’s letter to Robert Poe was probably written, though its location is not known. The identity of Mr. Bayard and the significance of the reference to him are unknown. William Poe’s letter of June 15, 1843, is the only other item in this correspondence known to be extant; it indicates, however, that Poe wrote to William, ante May 15 ? 1843, that William answered it on May 15 and again on June 15 (see H, XVII, 145-146, the original [page 143:] being in the Boston Public Library). There is sometimes cited a letter from William, dated December 15, 1843; but as the script of the June 15 letter could be read “Decem,” the letters are probably the same. [CL 245]

98 ⇒ TO WASHINGTON POE [August 15, 1840] [CL 246]

Philadelphia August 15th [1840]

My Dear Sir,

On the other leaf of this sheet you will find the Prospectus of a Magazine which I am about attempting to establish, and of which the first number will be issued on the first of January next[.] When I was editor of the Southern Messenger you were so kind as to use your influence in behalf of that journal, although I had myself no proprietary right in it and derived only a collateral benefit from your exertions. May I ask you to assist me in the present instance? Your brothers in Augusta have kindly offered me every aid in their power, and I have reason to hope that you will also feel inclined to do so for the sake of the relationship which exists between us, and for the honor of our family name. Upon looking over my Prospectus I trust you will find my purposes, as expressed in it, of a character worthy your support. I am actuated by an ambition which I believe to be an honourable one — the ambition of serving the great cause of truth, while endeavouring to forward the literature of the country. You are aware that hitherto my circumstances, as regards pecuniary matters, have been bad. In fact, my path in life has been beset with difficulties from which I hope to emerge by this effort. So far, my exertions have served only to enhance my literary reputation in some degree and to benefit others so far as money was concerned. If I succeed in the present attempt, however, fortune & fame must go hand in hand — and for these reasons I now most earnestly solicit your support. My chances of establishing the Magazine depend upon my getting a certain number of subscribers previously to the first of December. This is rendered necessary by my having no other capital to begin with than whatever reputation I may have acquired as a literary man. Had I money, I might issue the first numbers without this list; but as it is, at least 500 names will be required to enable me to commence. I have no doubt in the world that this number can be obtained among those friends who aided me in the Messenger; but still it behooves me to use every exertion [page 144:] to ensure success. I think it very probable that your influence in Macon will procure for me several subscribers, and, if so, you will render me a service for which I shall always be grateful. Remember me kindly to your family, and believe me

Yours most truly

Edgar A Poe

No other letters are extant between Poe and Washington Poe, of Macon, Georgia, though Poe wrote William Poe, April 12, 1836 (see Letter 60), that about March 30, 1836, he replied to a letter from Washington, dated probably about March 28-29. [CL 246]

99 ⇒ TO LUCIAN MINOR [August 18, 1840] [CL 247]

Philadelphia, August 18. 1840.

My Dear Sir,

I have the honor of sending you, herewith, a Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. In setting about the difficult and most ungracious task which I have proposed to myself, it is but natural that I should look around me anxiously for friends among the men of integrity and talent — and I now call to mind, with pride, the many instances of good will, towards myself individually, which you evinced while I edited the Southern Messenger.

I believe that the objects set forth in my Prospectus are such as you will approve; I feel that I am actuated by no ordinary nor dishonest ambition; I know that the disadvantages under which I labor are exceedingly great — and for these reasons I have no hesitation in earnestly soliciting your support — even at the risk of being considered importunate.

It is, indeed, in your power to aid me materially, and I have every hope that you will be inclined to do so. The permanent success of the Magazine depends, chiefly, upon the number of subscribers I may obtain before the first of December. If, through any influence you will be kind enough to exert in my behalf, at Charlottesville, or elsewhere, you can procure me even one or two names, you will render me a service of the greatest importance, and one for which I shall be very grateful. [page 145:]

I trust that you will excuse the abruptness of this letter, and attribute it rather to any cause than to a want of courtesy.

With the highest respect.

Yr. Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe

Mr Lucian Minor

(over)

The present letter is the last of the four known Poe letters to Minor (October 31, 1835, unlocated but advertised for sale in the Merwin-Clayton catalogue, January 18, 1911, as written by Poe but signed by T. W. White; February 5 and March 10, 1836, being the other three). It is interesting that the second and third letters were written by Poe for White, publisher of the Southern Literary Messenger, and the first one probably was too; only the present letter, therefore, was written by Poe in his own interest. [CL 247]

100 ⇒ TO JOSEPH B. BOYD [August 20, 1840] [CL 248]

Philadelphia August 20. 1840.

Dear Sir,

On the other leaf of this sheet you will find a Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. In setting about the difficult and most arduous task which I have proposed, it is but natural that I should look with especial anxiety for the support of those whose friendship may do me honor, and whose influence may further the objects I have in view. I believe that the purposes set forth in this Prospectus are such as your candor will approve; I feel that I am actuated by no dishonest, and certainly by no common-place ambition; the disadvantages under which I labor are, in some respects, exceedingly great — and, for these reasons, I have no hesitation in earnestly soliciting your assistance, even at the risk of being considered importunate.

Placed as you are, it is in your power to aid me most essentially, and I have every hope that you will be inclined to do so. My success depends, mainly, upon the number of subscribers I may obtain before the first of December. If, through any influence you will be kind enough to exert in my behalf, you can procure me even one or two names, you will render me a service of vital importance, and one for which I shall be grateful indeed. [page 146:]

I trust you will pardon whatever of abruptness may appear in this letter, and attribute it to any cause rather than to a want of respect.

Yrobst.

Edgar A Poe

Joseph B. Boyd Esqr

Quinn, Poe, p. 308, n. 2, says that the only Joseph B. Boyd of Cincinnati in 1840 “... is a watch maker, an unlikely person for Poe to ask for help.” Poe’s earlier correspondence with Boyd (see Letter 89) seems sufficient evidence for Poe’s solicitation of aid in acquiring subscribers to the Penn from one who had asked a favor of Poe; as a “watch maker,” Boyd might secure the “one or two names” Poe desired. According to Quinn, the letter is written on a revised form of the June prospectus of the Penn: page 1 has the prospectus, page 2 is blank, page 3 has the letter, and page 4, the address. There is no known answer to Poe’s letter. [CL 248]

101 ⇒ TO JOHN TOMLIN [September 16, 1840] [CL 253]

Philadelphia Sep. 16. 1840.

Dear Sir,

Your kind letter, with the names of nine subscribers to the Penn Magazine, has only this moment reached me, as I have been out of town for the last week. I hope you will think me sincere when I say that I am truly grateful for the interest you have taken in my welfare. A few more such friends as yourself and I shall have no reason to doubt of success.

What you say about “The Devil’s Visit to St Dunstan” gives me great pleasure. I was thinking in what manner I should ask of you some such favor as you propose in sending me this “true history[“] — but was afraid of making too many demands at once upon your good nature. Your offer, therefore, is most a propos. I shall look anxiously for the tale, and will assuredly be proud to give it a conspicuous place in the opening number of the Magazine.

With high respect, I am,

YrObSt

Edgar A Poe

Jno Tomlin Esqr

John Tomlin, postmaster of Jackson, Tennessee, was an admirer of Poe. His first known letter is dated October 16, 1839 (original in the Boston Public Library), his last, February 23, 1844 (original in the Boston Public Library). When the Penn was postponed, Tomlin wrote [page 147:] (April 30, 1841) asking Poe if “The Devil’s Visit” might be published in Graham’s. (The extant letters of Tomlin to Poe are in the Boston Public Library.) [CL 253]

102 ⇒ TO PLINY EARLE [October 10, 1840] [CL 256]

Philadelphia, October 10th 1840.

Dear Sir,

Your kind letter, dated the 2d inst, was postmarked the 8th, and I have only this morning received it. I hasten to thank you for the interest you have taken in my contemplated Magazine, and for the beautiful lines “By an Octogenarian”. They shall certainly appear in the first number. You must allow me to consider such offerings, however, as any thing but “unsubstantial encouragement.” Believe me that good poetry is far rarer, and therefore far more acceptable to the publisher of a journal, than even that rara avis money itself.

Should you be able to aid my cause in Frankford by a good word with your neighbours, I hope that you will be inclined to do so. Much depends upon the list I may have before the first of December. I send you a Prospectus — believing that the objects set forth in it are, upon the whole, such as your candor will approve.

Very truly & respectfully

Yr Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe

Dr Pliny Earle

Pliny Earle, physician and psychiatrist, became superintendent of Friends’ Hospital for the Insane, Frankford, Pennsylvania, in 1840. He published, during his lifetime, works, on hospitals for the insane and some poetry (Dictionary of American Biography, V, 595-596). Poe’s Penn Magazine, planned for publication in January 1841, never appeared. [CL 256]

103 ⇒ TO RICHARD H. STODDARD [November 6, 1840] [CL 257]

[Philadelphia, November 6, 1840]

... and now hasten to comply by transcribing a sonnet of my own composition...  .

[Signature missing]

Though Stoddard in 1884 edited the works of Poe, he did not print the above Poe letter. The “sonnet” was “To Zante.” [CL 257] [page 148:]

104 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [November 23, 1840] [CL 260]

Philadelphia, Novem. 23. 1840.

My Dear Thomas,

I only received yours of the 6th about an hour ago, having been out of town for the last ten days. Believe me, I was very glad to hear from you — for in truth I had given you up. I did not get the “Bulletin” you sent, but saw the notice at the Exchange. The “Bulletin” has always been very kind to me, and I am at a loss to know who edits it — will you let me into this secret when you write again? Neither did “Howard Pinkney” come to hand. Upon receipt of your letter, just now, I called at Congress Hall — but no books. Mr Bateman had been there, and gone, forgetting to leave them. I shall get them upon his return. Meantime, and long ago, I have read the novel, with its predecessors. I like H. P. very well — better than E & W. & not nearly so well as C. B. You give yourself up to your own nature (which is a noble one, upon my soul) in Clinton Bradshaw; but in Howard Pinkney you abandon the broad rough road for the dainty by-paths of authorism. In the former you are interested in what you write & write to please, pleasantly; in the latter, having gained a name, you write to maintain it, and [the] effort becomes apparent. This consciousness of reputation leads you so freq[uently] into those literary and other disquisitions about which we quarrelld at Studevant’s. If you would send the public opinion to the devil, forgetting that a public existed, and writing from the natural promptings of your own spirit you would do wonders. In a word, abandon is wanting in “Howard Pinkney” — and when I say this you must know that I mean a high compliment — for they to whom this very abandon may be safely suggested are very few indeed, and belong to the loftier class of writers.

I would say more of “Howard Pinkney”; but nothing in the shape of criticism can be well said in petto, and I intend to speak fully of the novel in the first number of the Penn Magazine — which I am happy to say will appear in January. I may just observe now, however, that I pitied you when I saw the blunders, typographical, and Frostigraphical — although, to do Frost justice, I do not think he looked at the proofs at all.

Thank you a thousand times for your good wishes & kind offers. [page 149:] I shall wait anxiously for the promised article. I should like to have it, if possible, in the first sheet, which goes to press early in December. But I know that I may depend upon you, and therefore say no more upon this head. For the rest, your own experience and friendship will suggest the modes by which you may serve me in St Louis. Perhaps you may be able to have the accompanying Prospectus (which you will see differs from the first) inserted once or twice in some of the city papers — if you can accomplish this without trouble I shall be greatly obliged to you.

Have you heard that that illustrious graduate of St John’s College, Cambridge, (Billy Barlow,) has sold his Magazine to Graham, of the “Casket”?

Mrs Clemm and Virginia unite with me in the kindest remembrances to yourself and sister — with whom your conversation (always turning upon the “one-loved name”) has already made us all so well acquainted.

How long will it be before I see you again? Write immediately.

Yours most truly —

EAP

Poe seems to have met Thomas in the summer of 1840, when the latter was attending a Whig convention in Philadelphia; for Thomas’ brief autobiographical sketch, see H, XVII, 95-100, where the date of the letter, incorrectly given as August 3, should read September 3, 1841 (see note to Letter 124). Poe’s letters to Thomas ring true and reveal a warmth and sincerity often lacking in those to other correspondents; Thomas proved a real friend to Poe. The St. Louis Bulletin was edited by a man named Churchill (see Thomas to Poe, December 7, 1840, in H, XVII, 66). Thomas’ Clinton Bradshaw (1835) was reviewed, not too favorably, by Poe in the SLM, December 1835 (H, VIII, 109-110); East and West (1836) and Howard Pinckney (1840) are referred to in Poe’s “Autography,” December 1841 (see H, XV, 209-210). Thomas sent Poe MS.-extracts from his long poem, “The Adventures of a Poet,” for use in the Penn (see Thomas’ autobiography, cited above, and his letter of December 7, 1840, in H, XVII, 65-66), as well as “terms” from an agent in St. Louis, who would handle the Penn (ibid.). Graham bought Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in November 1840, merged it with his Casket, and called the combination Graham’s Magazine (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 545); he began the year with a total of some 3,500 subscribers from Burton’s and some 1,500 from the Casket (see Quinn, Poe, p. 309). [CL 260] [page 150:]

105 ⇒ To L. J. CIST [December 30, 1840] [CL 263]

Philadelphia, Dec. 30. 1840.

My Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 7th found me labouring under a severe illness, which has confined me to bed for the last month, and from which I am now only slowly recovering.

The worst result of this illness is that I am forced to postpone the issue of the first number of the Mag. until the first of March next, when it will certainly appear, and I trust under the best auspices.

“Bachelor Philosophy”, I am sorry to say, cannot appear until the second number, as at the time of its reception, all the poetry for the first number was already in type.

Would you be kind enough to mention the delay in the issue to your friend Mr Boyd, and if possible to procure me the insertion of this announcement in some one of your city papers.

“THE PENN MAGAZINE” Owing to the severe and continued illness of Mr Poe the issue of the first number of this journal is postponed until the first of March next.

I am very truly & respectfully

Yr. ob. St

Edgar A Poe

L. J. Cist Esqr

Lewis J. Cist and Joseph B. Boyd, both of Cincinnati, were interested in Poe’s proposed Penn Magazine. Concerning Cist, see Letter 125 and note; concerning Boyd, see Letter 100 and note. The Penn Magazine was never published. [CL 263]

106 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [December 31, 1840] [CL 264]

Philadelphia, Dec. 31. 18 40

My Dear Sir,

I am about to commence, in this city, a Monthly Magazine somewhat on the plan of the “Southern Messenger”, and of which you may have seen a Prospectus in some of the Baltimore papers. The leading feature proposed is that of an absolutely independent criticism. Since you gave me my first start in the literary world, and since indeed I seriously say that without the timely kindness you once evinced [page 151:] towards me, I should not at this moment be among the living — you will not feel surprise that I look anxiously to you for encouragement in this new enterprise — the first of any importance which I have undertaken on my own account. What I most seriously need, in the commencement, is caste for the journal — I need the countenance of those who stand well in the social not less than in the literary world. I know that you have never yet written for Magazines — and this is a main reason for my now begging you to give me something for my own. I care not what the article be, nor of what length — what I wish is the weight of your name. Any unused scrap lying by you will fully answer my purpose.

The Magazine will be issued on the first of March, and, I believe, under the best auspices. May I ask your influence among your personal friends?

I shall look with great anxiety for your reply to this letter. In the meantime believe me, my dear Sir,

Yours ever gratefully & respectfully.

Edgar A Poe

John P. Kennedy Esqr

Through the summer and fall of 1840 Poe had been working to launch his Penn Magazine, often writing letters on the printed prospectuses. He wrote Thomas, November 23, 1840, that the first number would be published January 1, 1841; now to Kennedy, he says March 1. It never was issued, though Poe throughout his life never gave up hope of establishing his dream magazine. No answer to this letter, in the form of contribution or letter from Kennedy, is known. [CL 264]

107 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [January 17, 1841] [CL 267]

Philadelphia. Jan. 17. 1841.

My Dear Sir,

Your letters are always welcome — albeit “few and far between” (what an infamous tautology is that by the bye, for visits that are few must be far between) — and your last letter was especially so. I thought you had forgotten me altogether.

You wish to know my prospects with the “Penn”. They are glorious — notwithstanding the world of difficulties under which I labored and labor. My illness (from which I have now entirely recovered) has been, for various reasons, a benefit to my scheme, rather than a disadvantage; [page 152:] and, upon the whole, if I do not eminently succeed in this enterprize the fault will be altogether mine own. Still, I am using every exertion to ensure success, and, among other maneuvres, I have cut down the bridges behind me. I must now do or die — I mean in a literary sense.

Thank you for your offer of aid. I shall be delighted to receive any prose article from your [p]en. As for poetry I am overs[tock]ed with it. I am particu[l]arly anxious for a paper on the International Copy-Right [l]aw, [or] on the subject of the Laws of Libel in regard to Literary Criticism; but I believe these topics are not “in your line”. Your friend, David Hoffman Esqr, has been so kind as to promise me his aid; and perhaps he would not be unwilling to send me something on one or the other of the heads in question. Will you oblige me by speaking to him upon this subject? Above all things it is necessary that whatever be done “if done, be done quickly”; for I am about to put the first sheet to press immediately; and the others will follow in rapid succession.

In regard to my plans &c the Prospectus will inform you in some measure. I am resolved upon a good outward appearance — clear type, fine paper &c — double columns, I think, & brevier, with the poetry running across the page in a single column. No steel engravings; but now & then a superior wood-cut in illustration of the text. Thick covers. In the literary way, I shall endeavour, gradually, if I cannot effect the purpose at once to give the Magazine [page 2] a reputation for the having no articles but from the best pens — a somewhat negative merit, you will say. In criticism I will be bold & sternly, absolutely just, with friend & foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me. I shall aim at originality in the body of the work, more than at any other especial quality. I have one or two articles of my own in statu pupillari that would make you stare, at least, on account of the utter oddity of their conception. To carry out the conception is a difficulty which — may be overcome.

I have not seen the January Messenger; — but “Quotidiana” is a very good title “Quodlibetica” is also good; and even. more inclusive than the other. I am fond of such articles as these; and in good hands they may be made very interesting.

Burton that illustrious “graduate of St John’s College, Cambridge” is going to the devil with the worst grace in the world, but with a velocity truly astounding. The press here, in a body, have given him [page 153:] the cut direct. So be it — suum cuique. We have said q[u]ite enough about this genius.

Mr Graham is a very g[en]tlemanly personage. I will see him tomorrow, and speak to him in regard to your essay: although, to prevent detection, Burton may have destroyed it.

And now, my dear Snodgrass, will you do me a favor? I have heard some mention made of a new Magazine to be established in Baltimore by a Virginian & a practical printer. I am anxious to know all the de[t]ails of the project. Can you procure & send me (by return of mail) a Prospectus? If you cannot get one, will you write me all about it — the gentleman’s name &c &c &c ?

I have underscored the word “anxious” because I really mean what I say, and because, about a fortnight ago, I made to the Hon. N. C. Brooks A. M. a request just such as I now make to yourself. He did not reply; and I, expecting of course the treatment which one gentleman naturally expects from another, have been put to the greatest inconvenience by the daily but fruitless expectation.

Very truly & respectfully yours.

Edgar A Poe.

Dr J. E. Snodgrass.

The Penn did not appear as scheduled (see Letter 108 and note). David Hoffman was a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Hoffman and Dobbins (see P, I, 645), and an author (see H, XVII, 76). “Quotidiana” was an article by Snodgrass in the current SLM. George R. Graham established Graham’s Magazine by merging his own Casket and Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, in November 1840 (Quinn, Poe, p. 309). Regarding the essay by Snodgrass, see Letter toy and note. Failure to hear from Nathan C. Brooks may have been due to Poe’s rupture with Burton, a friend of the former editor of the Baltimore American Museum, or to Brooks’s new duties as principal of the Baltimore city schools. Poe had been a contributor to Brooks’s Museum (see Letter 78; also note to Letter go). [CL 267]

108 ⇒ TO ROBERT T. CONRAD [January 22, 1841] [CL 268]

Philadelphia January 22. 1841.

Dear Sir,

On the other leaf of this sheet you will find a Prospectus of a new monthly journal which I am about to establish in this city, somewhat on the plan of the Richmond “Southern Literary Messenger”. In this [page 154:] latter I had no proprietary right; but “The Penn Magazine” will be my own. I have been led to make the attempt of establishing it through an earnest yet natural desire of rendering myself independent — I mean not so much as regards money, as in respect to my literary opinions and conduct. So far I have not only labored solely for the benefit of others (receiving for myself a miserable pittance) but have been forced to model my thoughts at the will of men whose imbecility was evident to all but themselves.

As a man of the world you will at once understand that what I most need for my work in its commencement (since I am comparatively a stranger in Philadelphia) is caste. I need the countenance of those who stand well not less in the social than in the literary world. I, certainly, have no claim whatever upon your attention, and have scarcely the honor of your personal acquaintance — but if I could obtain the influence of your name in an article (however brief) for my opening number, I feel that it would assist me beyond measure — and, without knowing definitely why, I have been induced to hope that you would not be altogether unwilling to aid me. I am the more anxious that you would do me this great favor, as there are two subjects which strike me as exceedingly proper for discussion, at this moment, in a magazine such as I propose — two subjects which could scarcely be so well treated by any one as by yourself. I mean the topics of the International Copy-Right Law, and The Laws of Libel in their relation to Literary Criticism. I am rash, however, in making any suggestions; and should be only too much delighted if you could afford me an article upon any question whatever.

The first number will be put to press on the first of February.

Looking anxiously for your reply,

I am, with high respect

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Judge R. T. Conrad

During his lifetime, Robert T. Conrad was a prominent Philadelphian and semi-professional man of letters; he wrote plays and contributed to the magazines of the day. Later he became a judge and a mayor of Philadelphia (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 551). In 1847-1848, he assisted George Graham in editing the North American and Graham’s. Poe included him in his “Autography,” Graham’s, December 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 232-233). During the second half of 1840, Poe frequently used a blank page of his printed prospectus for [page 155:] correspondence (see Letters 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100, 101, and 107). Regarding the articles desired of Conrad, see also Letter 107 in which he suggests that Snodgrass’ friend, David Hoffman, of Baltimore, might contribute articles on the same topics. The Penn did not appear (see F. W. Thomas’ letter to Poe, March 7, 1841 in H, XVII, 81; “... this past week. Dow ... told me you had given up the idea of the Penn and was engaged with Graham”; see also the note to Letter 109). No reply from Conrad is known. [CL 268]

109 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [April 1, 1841] [CL 275]

Philadelphia, April 1,1841.

My Dear Snodgrass

I fear you have been thinking it was not my design to answer your kind letter at all. It is now April Fool’s Day, and yours is dated March 8th; but believe me, although, for good reason, I may occasionally postpone my reply to your favors, I am never in danger of forgetting them.

I am much obliged to you for permitting me to hand over your essay to Mr. Graham. It will appear in the June number. In order to understand this apparent delay, you must be informed that we go to press at a singularly early period. The May number is now within two days of being ready for delivery to the mails. I should be pleased to receive a brief notice of Soran’s poems for the June number-if you think this will not be too late.

In regard to Burton. I feel indebted to you for the kind interest you express; but scarcely know how to reply. My situation is embarrassing. It is impossible, as you say, to notice a buffoon and a felon, as one gentleman would notice another. The law, then, is my only resource. Now, if the truth of a scandal could be admitted in justification — I mean of what the law terms a scandal — I would have matters all my own way. I would institute a suit, forthwith, for his personal defamation of myself. He would be unable to prove the truth of his allegations. I could prove their falsity and their malicious intent by witnesses who, seeing me at all hours of every day, would have the best right to speak — I mean Burton’s own clerk, Morrell, and the compositors of the printing office. In fact, I could prove the scandal almost by acclamation. I should obtain damages. But, on the other hand, I have never been scrupulous in regard to what I have said of him. I have always told him to his face, and everybody else, that I [page 156:] looked upon him as a blackguard and a villain. This is notorious. He would meet me with a cross action. The truth of the allegation — which I could easily prove as he would find it difficult to prove the truth of his own respecting me — would not avail me. The law will not admit, as justification of my calling Billy Burton a scoundrel, that Billy Burton is really such. What then can I do? If I sue, he sues; you see how it is.

At the same time — as I may, after further reflection, be induced to sue, I would take it as an act of kindness — not to say justice — on your part, if you would see the gentleman of whom you spoke, and ascertain with accuracy all that may legally avail me; that is to say, what and when were the words used, and whether your friend would be willing for your sake, for my sake, and for the sake of truth, to give evidence if called upon. Will you do this for me?

So far for the matter inasmuch as it concerns Burton. I have now to thank you for your defence of myself, as stated. You are a physician, and I presume no physician can have difficulty in detecting the drunkard at a glance. You are, moreover, a literary man, well read in morals. You will never be brought to believe that I could write what I daily write, as I write it, were I as this villain would induce those who know me not, to believe. In fine, I pledge you, before God, the solemn word of a gentleman, that I am temperate even to rigor. From the hour in which I first saw this basest of calumniators to the hour in which I retired from his office in uncontrollable disgust at his chicanery, arrogance, ignorance and brutality, nothing stronger than water ever passed my lips.

It is, however, due to candor that I inform you upon what foundation he has erected his slanders. At no period of my life was I ever what men call intemperate. I never was in the habit of intoxication. I never drunk drams, &c. But, for a brief period, while I resided in Richmond, and edited the Messenger, I certainly did give way, at long intervals, to the temptation held out on all sides by the spirit of Southern conviviality. My sensitive temperament could not stand an excitement which was an everyday matter to my companions. In short, it sometimes happened that I was completely intoxicated. For some days after each excess I was invariably confined to bed. But it is now quite four years since I have abandoned every kind of alcoholic drink — four years, with the exception of a single deviation, which occurred shortly after my leaving Burton, and when I was induced to resort to [page 157:] the occasional use of cider, with the hope of relieving a nervous attack.

You will thus see, frankly stated, the whole amount of my sin. You will also see the blackness of that heart which could revive a slander of this nature. Neither can you fail to perceive how desperate the malignity of the slanderer must be — how resolute he must be to slander, and how slight the grounds upon which he would build up a defamation — since he can find nothing better with which to charge me than an accusation which can be disproved by each and every man with whom I am in the habit of daily intercourse.

I have now only to repeat to you, in general, my solemn assurance that my habits are as far removed from intemperance as the day from the night. My sole drink is water.

Will you do me the kindness to repeat this assurance to such of your friends as happen to speak of me in your hearing?

I feel that nothing more is requisite, and you will agree with me upon reflection.

Hoping soon to hear from you, I am,

Yours most cordially,

Edgar A. Poe.

Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.

P.S. — You will receive the magazine, as a matter of course. I had supposed that you were already on our free list.

P.P.S. — The Penn, I hope, is only “scotched, not killed.” It would have appeared under glorious auspices, and with capital at command, in March, as advertised, but for the unexpected bank suspensions. In the meantime, Mr. Graham has made me a liberal offer, which I had great pleasure in accepting. The Penn project will unquestionably be resumed hereafter.

Though the Baltimore American is the only known source for this letter, all subsequent printings have varied in some degree, either in changes in pointing or in omissions of text. Several papers, including the New York World and the New York Herald, copied the letter on the same day under a Baltimore release. According to editorial comment in the American, the italics are Poe’s own. “Poetry: the uncertainty of its appreciation,” by Snodgrass, previously submitted to Burton’s for a premium, was printed in Graham’s, XIII (June 1841), 288-289. Unlike Burton’s, Graham’s appeared almost a month in advance of date. Within the limits given, Poe’s defense of himself against accusations of drunkenness is probably based on truth. When the Penn was postponed, Poe joined Graham’s. George Rex Graham bought Atkinson’s [page 158:] Casket in May, 1839, and merged it with Burton’s Gentleman’s in December 1840, at which time he was also part owner of the Saturday Evening Post. After contributing “The Man of the Crowd” to the December number of Graham’s, Poe joined the editorial staff in February in time for the April issue (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 544-546). An editorial in the Saturday Evening Post, February 20, speaks of Poe’s becoming one of the editors of Graham’s, and in the April issue of the magazine the proprietor himself speaks of having made certain arrangements with Poe, “commencing with the present number” (see Quinn, Poe, p. 310). According to Mott (History of American Magazines, p. 549), Poe’s salary was $800, which did not include payments made for contributions, such as tales, to “the literary contents.” Mott also points out (p. 512) that Graham paid R. W. Griswold $1000 as editor in 1842, and he offered Bayard Taylor the editorship in 1848 at the same salary. “The Penn project” was resumed in the early summer of 1841, Poe believing Graham would finance its publication (see Poe’s letters to Kennedy, Irving, Halleck, and others, in June). [CL 275]

110 ⇒ TO HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW [May 3, 1841] [CL 281]

Dear Sir,

Mr Geo: R. Graham, proprietor of “Graham’s Magazine”, a monthly journal published in this city, and edited by myself, desires me to beg of you the honor of your contribution to its pages. Upon the principle that we seldom obtain what we very anxiously covet, I confess that I have but little hope of inducing you to write for us; — and, to say truth, I fear that Mr Graham would have opened the negotiation much better in his own person — for I have no reason to think myself favorably known to you — but the attempt was to be made, and I make it.

I should be overjoyed if we could get from you an article each month — either poetry or prose — length and subject à discretion. In respect to terms we would gladly offer you carte blanche — and the periods of payment should also be made to suit yourself.

Should you be willing to write for the Magazine, it would be an important object with us to have something, as soon as convenient, for the July number, which commences a new volume, and with part of which we are already going to press. With this letter I forward to your address, by mail, the April and May numbers of the journal — that you may form some judgment of the character of the work. It is our design, however, greatly to improve its mechanical appearance; [page 159:] and, in the new volume, we shall have [page 2] an array of contributors not altogether unworthy an association with yourself.

In conclusion — I cannot refrain from availing myself of this, the only opportunity I may ever have, to assure the author of the “Hymn to the Night”, of the “Beleaguered City” and of the “Skeleton in Armor”, of the fervent admiration with which his genius has inspired me: — and yet I would scarcely hazard a declaration whose import might be so easily misconstrued, and which bears with it, at best, more or less, of niäiserie, were I not convinced that Professor Longfellow, writing and thinking as he does, will be at no loss to feel and to appreciate the honest sincerity of what I say.

With highest respect.

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe.

Prof. H. W. Longfellow

Philadelphia,

May 3d /41

This is the first of the two letters Poe wrote to Longfellow, the other being that of June 22, 18 (see Longfellow to Griswold, September 28, 1850, in H, XVII, 406-407, where Longfellow says, “... two letters ... and these are the only ones I ever received from him”). For Poe’s favorable opinion of “Hymn to the Night” and “The Beleaguered City,” see his review of Voices of the Night in Burton’s, February 1840 (reprinted in H, X, 71-80). Longfellow’s reply to the present letter declined the offer but added that Poe’s name was known to him and that he thought highly of Poe’s power, especially as a “romance-writer.” [CL 281]

111 ⇒ TO RUFUS W. GRISWOLD [ante May 8, Spring, 1841] [CL 282]

[Philadelphia]

[ante May 8, Spring, 1841]

Dr Griswold,

Will you be kind enough to lend me the No. of the Family Magazine of which we spoke — if you have received it?

I wd be much obliged, also, if you ca let me take a peep at Stephens’ “Yucatan”, if you have it, or, if not, at any new book of interest.

Truly yours

Poe [page 160:]

Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1815-1857), a native of Vermont, was a licensed Baptist clergyman and had done editorial work in New England and in New York before coming to Philadelphia where in the spring of 1841 he and Poe became acquainted. He became well known as an editor of anthologies, his Poets and Poetry of America, Prose Writers of America, and Female Poets of America going into numerous editions. Upon Poe’s resignation from Graham’s in April 1842, Griswold succeeded to the editorship. Following Poe’s death in Baltimore, October 7, 1849, Griswold wrote for the October 9 issue of the New York Tribune his famous “Ludwig” article that did so much to damage Poe’s reputation. Then, in 1850, he edited the Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe. Volume I included a notice “To the Reader,” authorized by Maria Clemm (see Griswold’s power of attorney from Mrs. Clemm, Quinn, Poe, p. 754), but certainly worded by Griswold: “The late Edgar Allan Poe wrote (just before he left his home in Fordham, for the last time, on the 29th of June, 1849) requests that the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold should act as his literary Executor, and superintend the publication of his works ... ” (see the notes to Letter 321). The Family Magazine, a weekly founded in New York by Origen Bacheler in 1833, became a monthly in June 1834, and remained so until suspended in May 1841, serving its readers with “useful and entertaining knowledge” (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 363-364). John L. Stephens wrote several books beginning with the title “Incidents of Travel ... ”; Poe reviewed his Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia, and the Holy Land (1837) in the New York Review, October 1837, and his Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan (1841) in Graham’s, August 1841; though Stephens also published Incidents of Travel in Yucatan (see Dictionary of American Biography, XIX, 579-580), in 1843, the evidence so far adduced points to the 1841 title, Poe merely clipping it in his note to Griswold. [CL 282]

112 ⇒ TO RUFUS W. GRISWOLD [May 29, 1841] [CL 289]

[Philadelphia, May 29, 1841]

R. W. Griswold Esqr,

My Dear Sir,

On the other leaf I send such poems as I think my best, from which you can select any which please your fancy. I should be proud to see one or two of them in your book. The one called “Haunted Palace” is that of which I spoke in reference to Prof. Longfellow’s plagiarism. I first published the H. P. in Brooks’ “Museum”, a monthly journal of Baltimore, now dead. Afterwards, I embodied it in a tale called “The House of Usher” in Burton’s Magazine. Here it was, I suppose, [page 161:] that Prof. Longfellow saw it; for, about 6 weeks afterwards, there appeared in the South. Lit. Mess: a poem by him called “The Beleaguered City”, which may now be found in his volume. The identity in title is striking; for by the Haunted Palace I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms — a disordered brain — and by the Beleaguered City Prof. L. means just the same. But the whole tournure of the poem is based upon mine, as you will see at once. Its allegorical conduct, the style of its versification & expression — all are mine.

As I understood you to say that you meant to preface each set of poems by some biographical notice, I have ventured to send you the above memo — the particulars of which (in a case where an author is so little known as myself) might not be easily obtained elsewhere.

“The Coliseum” was the prize poem alluded to above.

With high respect and esteem,

I am yr ob. st

Edgar A Poe

The extra “leaf” containing Poe’s poems is lost. “The Haunted Palace” was first published in Nathan C. Brooks’ American Museum of Science, Literature and the Arts, April 1839, and later embodied in “The Fall of the House of Usher” in Burton’s, vol. V (September 1839). Longfellow’s “Beleaguered City” appeared in the SLM, V (November 1839). Regarding the plagiarism charged by Poe but really unfounded, see Longfellow’s letter to Griswold, September 28, 1850 (H, XVII, 406-407). The “memo,” which is full of inaccuracies, is reprinted in H, I, 344-346 Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America (April 18, 1842) printed only three of Poe’s poems: “The Haunted Palace,” “The Coliseum,” and “The Sleeper,” all published earlier. “The Coliseum” had been submitted by Poe for the prize offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter in 1833 at the same time he entered his Tales of the Folio Club. His tale, “MS. Found in a Bottle,” won the first prize for prose, and apparently the poem would have won first prize in its class except that the judges decided not to award both prizes to the same contestant (see Campbell, Poems, pp. 218-219). The “above” refers of course to the “memo,” not to the present letter. [CL 289]

113 ⇒ TO WASHINGTON IRVING [June 21, 1841] [CL 293]

Philadelphia — June 21. 1841

Dear Sir,

Mr George R. Graham of this city, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine, upon certain conditions, one of which is the [page 162:] procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you pardon me for saying a few words upon the subject?

I need not call you attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have not any journal of the class, which either can afford to offer pecuniary inducement to the highest talent, or which would be, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr Graham is a lawyer, but for some years past has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the business of a periodical is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. You will perhaps remember myself as the original editor of the South: Lit. Messenger, of Richmond, Va, and I have otherwise had much to do with the editorial conduct of Magazines. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, and, we hope, with full ability to meet them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be of excellent quality -very far superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in a single column. The printing will be done upon a hand press, in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings, except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages, as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to be fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest [page 2] purity of taste, consistent with decision and force. The price will be $5.

The chief feature in the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; [page 163:] or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the aid of some five or six of the most distinguished, and to admit few articles from other sources — none which are not of a very high order of merit. We shall endeavour to engage the permanent services of yourself, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Kennedy, Mr Longfellow, Mr Bryant, Mr Halleck, Mr Willis, and, perhaps, one or two others. In fact, as before said, our ability to make these arrangements is a condition without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now, is to ascertain how far we may look to yourself for aid.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either absolute or serial — and of such length as you might deem proper. We leave terms entirely to your own decision. The sums specified would be paid as you might suggest. It would be necessary that an agreement should be made for one year, during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other American Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January 1842, and (should we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be best that we should have in hand, by the first of December 1841, at least two of the papers intended for publication, from each contributor.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen above named. If you cannot consent to an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we succeed in our engagements with the othersspecifying what others?

With high respect

Yr ob St

Edgar A Poe

Washington Irving Esqr

This letter should be compared to Letters 113, 115, and 116. [CL 293]

114 ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [June 21, 1841] [CL 294]

Philadelphia — June [21] 1841

My Dear Sir,

Mr George R. Graham, of this city, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring [page 164:] your assistance in the enterprise. Will you permit me to say a few words on the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, and the readily-circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews (lucus a non lucendo) are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean merely for the taste of the tasteless, the uneducated, but for that also, of the few. The finest minds of Europe are beginning to deal with Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have no journal of the class, which can either afford to compensate the highest talent, or which is, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained, and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr Graham is a lawyer, but, for some years past, has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the periodical business is extensive. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. Together, we would enter the field with a full knowledge of the difficulties to be encountered, and with perfect assurance of being able to overcome them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be excellent — far superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in single column. The printing will be done upon a handpress, in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, [page 2] they will be worked in with the type. The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to lie fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest purity of taste, consistent with force and decision. The price will be $5.

I believe I sent you, some time ago, a Prospectus of the “Penn Magazine”, the scheme of which was broken up by the breaking up of the banks. The name will be preserved — and the general intentions, of that journal. A rigorous independence shall be my watchword still — truth, not so much for truth’s sake, as for the sake of the novelty of the thing. But the chief feature will be that of contributions from the [page 165:] most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose at least to procure the aid of some five or six of the most distinguished — admitting few articles from other sources — none which are not of a high order of merit. We shall endeavour to engage the permanent services of yourself, Mr Irving, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Longfellow, Mr Bryant, Mr Halleck, Mr Willis, and, perhaps, one or two more. In fact, as before said; our success in making these engagements, is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now, is to ascertain how far we may look to yourself for aid.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either absolute or serial — of such length as you might think proper. The terms are left entirely to your own decision. Whatever sum you may specify will be paid as you suggest. An agreement should be made for one year, during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other (American) Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January 1842, and (should [page 3] we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be necessary that we should have in hand, by the first of December next, at least two articles from each contributor.

I look most anxiously for your answer; for it is of vital importance to me, personally. This you will see at once. Mr Graham is to furnish all supplies, and will give me, merely for editorial service, and my list of subscribers to the old “Penn”, a half interest in the proposed Magazine — but he will only engage in the enterprize on the conditions before stated — on condition that I can obtain as contributors the gentlemen above named — or at least the most of them — giving them carte blanche as to terms. Your name will enable me, I know, to get several of the others. You will not fail me at this crisis! If I get this Magazine fairly afloat, with the money to back me as now, I will have every thing my own way.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen named. If you cannot reply unconditionally — will you be so kind as to say whether you will write for us if we succeed with others — specifying what others?

Most truly Yours,

Edgar A Poe.

John P. Kennedy, Esqr [page 166:]

N.B. If you have a novel on the tapis, you could not dispose of it in any way so advantageously as by selling it to us. You would get more for it than L & B. would give. It would be printed in finer style than they could afford to print it — and it would have a far wider circulation in our Magazine than in book form. We will commence with an edition of 3000.

In his letter to Cooke, September 21, 1839, Poe said, “As soon as Fate allows I will have a Magazine of my own”; but his dream of the ideal journal was never fulfilled, though on at least three occasions he seemed to be in sight of his goal (see the present letter; Letter 153 and note; and Letter 211 and note. One should also recall his prospectus of the Penn, printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, June 13, 1840, reprinted in Quinn, Poe, pp. 306-308). With the present letter, compare Poe’s hopes and plans for the Stylus, as the Penn came to be called, in Letter 185 and Letter 186. Whatever promises Graham may have made, he never actively participated with Poe in the establishment of a magazine. [CL 294]

115 ⇒ TO HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW [June 22, 1841] [CL 295]

Philadelphia — June 22 1841.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 19th May was received. I regret to find my anticipations confirmed, and that you cannot make it convenient to accept Mr Graham’s proposition. Will you now pardon me for making another?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit that the tendency of the age lies in this way — so far at least as regards the lighter letters. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews (lucus a non lucendo) are found too massive for the taste of the day; — I do not mean for the taste of the tasteless, but for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have not any journal of the class, which either can afford to offer pecuniary inducement to the highest talent, or which would be, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would [page 167:] be a point gained; and in the hope of at least partially supplying it, Mr Graham and myself propose to establish a Monthly Magazine.

The amplest funds will be embarked in the undertaking. The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be of excellent quality — possibly finer than that upon which your “Hyperion” was printed. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in a single column. The printing will be done upon a hand-press in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. There will be no engravings, except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to lie fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest purity of taste consistent with decision and force. The price will be $5.

The chief feature in the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we [page 2] propose, at least, to make arrangements (if possible) with yourself, Mr Irving, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Bryant, Mr Halleck, Mr Paulding, Mr Willis, and one or two others. In fact, our ability to make these arrangements is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my object in writing you this letter is to ascertain how far I may look to yourself for aid.

In your former note you spoke of present engagements. The proposed journal will not be commenced until the 1st January 1842.

It would be desirable that you should agree to furnish one paper each month — prose or poetry — absolute or serial — and of such length as you might deem proper. Should illustrations be desired by you, these will be engraved at our expense, from designs at your own, superintended by yourself. We leave the matter of terms, as before, to your own decision. The sums agreed upon would be paid as you might suggest. It would be necessary that an agreement should be made for one year — during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other (American) Magazine.

With this letter I despatch one of the same tenor to each of the gentlemen before-named. If you cannot consent to an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us [page 168:] upon condition that we succeed in our engagements with the others — specifying what others.

With high respect.

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe.

Prof. H. W. Longfellow.

Compare this letter with Letters 113 and 114, and see the notes to these letters. In Poe’s list of those with whom arrangements were planned (see page 2), Kennedy’s name probably should have replaced the repetition of Paulding’s. [CL 295]

116 ⇒ TO FITZ-GREENE HALLECK [June 24, 1841] [CL xx]

Philadelphia — June 24 — 1841.

Dear Sir,

Mr George R. Graham, of this City, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine, upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you pardon me for saying a few words upon the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have no journal of the class, which can either afford to compensate the highest talent, or which is, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr Graham is a lawyer, but for some time past, has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the periodical business is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, and, I trust, with ability to meet them. [page 169:]

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be excellent — superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in single column. The printing will be done upon a handpress in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings, except occasional wood-cuts (by the best artists) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to be fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve [page 2] the greatest purity of taste, consistent with decision and force. The price will be 5$.

The chief feature of the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively. Or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the constant aid of some five or six of the most distinguished, and to admit few articles from other sources — none which are not of a high order of excellence. We shall endeavour to procure the services of yourself, Mr Bryant, Mr Longfellow, Mr Irving, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Kennedy, Mr Willis, and perhaps one or two others. In fact, as before said, our success in making these engagements is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now is to ascertain how far I may depend upon yourself for assistance.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either a complete poem, or a portion of one — and of such length as you deem proper. The terms will be left entirely to your own decision. The sums specified will be paid as you may suggest — in advance if necessary. It would be advisable that an agreement be made for one year, during which you should be pledged to write for no other (American) Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January 1842, and (should we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be proper that we should have in hand by the first of December next, at least two papers from each contributor.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen above named. If you cannot make it convenient to give an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you [page 170:] will write for us upon condition that we are able to engage others — specifying what others?

With high respect — yr ob. st.

Edgar A Poe

Fitz-Greene Halleck Esqr

Compare this letter with Letters 113 and 114, and see the notes to these letters. [CL 296]

117 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [June 26, 1841] [CL 298]

My Dear Thomas,

With this I mail you the July No: of the Mag: If you can get us a notice in the Intelligencer, as you said, I will take it as a particular favor — but if it is inconvenient, do not put yourself to any trouble about it.

I have just heard through Graham, who obtained his information from Ingraham, that you have stepped into an office at Washington — salary $1000. From the bottom of my heart I wish you joy. You can now lucubrate more at your ease & will infallibly do something worthy yourself.

For my own part, notwithstanding Graham’s unceasing civility, and real kindness, I feel more & more disgusted with my situation. Would to God, I could do as you have done. Do you seriously think that an application on my part to Tyler would have a good result? My claims, to be sure, are few. I am a Virginian — at least I call myself one, for I have resided all my life, until within the last few years, in Richmond. My political principles have always been as nearly as may be, with the existing administration, and I battled with right good will for Harrison, when opportunity offered. With Mr Tyler I have some slight personal acquaintance — although this is a matter which he has possibly forgotten. For the rest, I am a literary man — and I see a disposition in government to cherish letters. Have I any chance? I would be greatly indebted to you if you [page 2] reply to this as soon as you can, and tell me if it would, in your opinion, be worth my while to make an effort — and if so — put me upon the right track. This could not be better done than by detailing to me your own mode of proceeding.

It appears that Ingraham is in high dudgeon with me because I [page 171:] spoke ill of his “Quadroone.” I am really sorry to hear it — but it is a matter that cannot be helped. As a man I like him much, and wherever I could do so, without dishonor to my own sense of truth, I have praised his writings. His “South-West,” for example, I lauded highly. His “Quadroone” is, in my honest opinion, trash. If I must call it a good book to preserve the friendship of Prof. Ingraham — Prof. Ingraham may go to the devil.

I am really serious about the office. If you can aid me in any way, I am sure you will. Remember me kindly to Dow & believe me

Yours most truly,

Edgar A Poe

F. W. Thomas.

Phil: June 26. 41

It is not impossible that you could effect my object by merely showing this letter yourself personally to the President and speaking of me as the original editor of the Messenger[.]

The July number of Graham’s (XIX, 38) carried Thomas’ poem, “The Meeting of the Lovers.” Poe treated Joseph H. Ingraham in”Autography,” Graham’s, November 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 188). Strictly speaking, Poe’s residence in Richmond may be said to have ended in March 1827, though he may have considered himself a resident until John Allan’s death in March 1834. Thomas’ letter to Poe, July 1 (MS. in the Boston Public Library), advised Poe to get in touch with J. P. Kennedy, who might aid him in getting a government clerkship. Poe reviewed Ingraham’s Southwest in the SLM, II (January 1836), 122-123. For Jesse E. Dow, who at one time edited the Index (Alexandria, Virginia) and the Daily Madisonian (Washington), see Poe’s “Autography,” Graham’s, December 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 228; see also, Note 197 for Thomas’ remarks on Poe’s letter). In Graham’s for June 1841 (XVIII, 296), is an unsigned review of The Quadroone, obviously by Poe. [CL 298]

118 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [July 4, 1841] [CL 304]

Phil. July 4 — 41

My Dear Thomas,

I recd yours of the 1rst this morning, and have again to thank you for the interest you take in my welfare. I wish to God I could visit [page 172:] Washington — but the old story, you know — I have no money — not even enough to take me there, saying nothing of getting back. It is a hard thing to be poor — but as I am kept so by an honest motive I dare not complain.

Your suggestion about Mr Kennedy is well-timed; and here, Thomas you can do me a true service. Call upon Kennedy — you know him, I believe — if not, introduce yourself — he is a perfect gentleman and will give you cordial welcome. Speak to him of my wishes, and urge him to see the Secretary of War in my behalf — or one of the other Secretaries — or President Tyler. I mention in particular the Secretary of War, because I have been to W. Point, and this may stand me in some stead. I would be glad to get almost any appointment — even a $500 one — so that I have something independent of letters for a subsistence. To coin one’s brain into silver, at the nod of a master, is to my thinking, the hardest task in the world. Mr Kennedy has been at all times a true friend to me — he was the first true friend I ever had — I am indebted to him for life itself. He will be willing to help me now — but needs urging, for he is always head and ears in business. Thomas, may I depend upon you? By the way, I wrote to Mr K. about ten days ago on the subject of a Magazine — a project of mine in conjunction with Graham — and have not yet heard from him. Ten to one I misdirected the letter, or sent it to Baltimore — for I am very thoughtless about such matters.

So you will set me down “a magician” if I decipher your friend’s cryptograph. No sooner suggested than done. Tell him to read this —

“In one of those peripatetic circumrotations I obviated a rustic whom we subjected to catachetical interrogation respecting the characteristics of the edifice to which he was approximate. With a volubility uncongealed by the frigorific powers of villatin bashfulness he ejaculated [page 2] a voluminous replication from the universal tenor of whose contents I deduct the subsequent amalgamation of heterogeneous facts without dubiety” — &c &c.

The key-phrase is — “But find out this and I give it up”. Besides using this, however, he has interspersed his cypher with such abbreviations as £ for in, Δ for of, •) for an, ( for by, 9 for tion, 7 for on, ‡ for as, [ for it, 4 for to, 6 for or, ] for if, F for he, † for is, $ for at &c &c. This, you will admit, is altogether beyond the limits of my challenge which extended only to cyphers such as that of Berryer. You will also admit that phrases constructed for purposes of deception [page 173:] (as your friend’s) are infinitely more difficult of perusal than a cipher intended for actual conveyance of one’s natural ideas. The truth is, that Dr Fraley’s cryptograph is inadmissible as such, because it cannot be readily decyphered by the person to whom it is addressed, and who possesses the key. In proof of this, I will publish it in the Mag: with a reward to any one who shall read it with the key, and I am pretty sure that no one will be found to do it.

I have not meddled with the first cryptograph — for I thought the Drs scepticism would be sufficiently set at rest by my solution of the longer one — and to say truth I am exceedingly busy just now. Let him insist however, and read is the word. Nothing intelligible can be written which, with time, I cannot decipher. No more difficult cypher can be constructed than the one he has sent. It embodies all the essentials of abstruseness. & is very clever.

As I mean to publish it this month, will you be kind enough to get from his own hand an acknowledgment of my solution, adding your own acknowledgment, in such form that I may append both to the cipher by way of note. I wish to do this because I am seriously accused of humbug in this matter — a thing I despise. People will not believe I really decipher the puzzles. Write by return of mail.

Yours truly.

E A Poe

[page 3] State that I deciphered it by return of mail — as I do.

Thomas’ letter of July 1 suggested that Poe enlist the aid of J. P. Kennedy in getting a government clerkship. For Kennedy’s friendship, see Letter 50. Poe wrote Kennedy June 21, 1841, and addressed it to Baltimore, where it was readdressed to Washington. Poe published Thomas’ letter of July 6 and Frailey’s acknowledgment of Poe’s solution, the cipher, and a challenge to any reader to solve it, the reward being a year’s subscription to Graham’s and the Saturday Evening Post, in Graham’s, XIX (August 1841), 96 (reprinted in H, XIV, 133-137). In Graham’s, October 1841, Poe printed the solution of the cipher, after saying that it had “not yet been read by any of our innumerable readers.”

Poe’s career as a solver of cryptograms began with his issuance of a challenge to all readers, in the December 18, 1839, number of Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, a Philadelphia newspaper. He said, in part, “... we pledge ourselves to read it [a cipher] forthwith — however unusual or arbitrary may be the characters employed.” Between December [page 174:] 18, 1839, and May 6, 1840, thirty-six ciphers were announced as received, most of which he solved (for a full discussion, see Clarence S. Brigham, “Edgar Allan Poe’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger,” in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, vol. 52, pt. 1 (April, 1942), pp. 45-125, and especially a letter from W. K. Wimsatt quoted in the article, pp. 48-50). Poe continued his articles and challenges on secret writing in Graham’s, July, August, October, and December 1841 (reprinted in H, XIV, 114-149). The subject is also treated in about a score of the letters in the Poe correspondence. [CL 304]

119 ⇒ TO WILLIAM LANDOR [July 7, 1841] [CL 308]

Philad., July 7. 41.

My Dear Sir,

I duly received both your notes, and, daily, since the reception of the first, have been intending to reply. The cause of my not having done so is my failure to obtain certain definite information from the printer to whom I had allusion, and who still keeps me in momentary expectation of an answer. I merely write these few words now, lest you should think my silence proceeds from discourtesy — than which nothing can be farther from my thoughts. At the first opportunity you shall hear from me in full.

With high respect.

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Wm Landor Esqr

P.S. You have seen, I believe, the July no: of Mag. Among the critical notices is one on Bolingbroke, the only notice not written by myself. There are passages in that critique which I am sure are stolen, although I cannot put my hand upon the original. Your acquaintance with Bolingbroke’s commentators is more extensive than my own. Can you aid me in tracing the theft? I am anxious to do so. Has not Bulwer written something like it?

Landor wrote “Sweepings from a Drawer” in Burton’s, V (November 1839), 236; later he wrote a biography of N. P. Willis (see Letter 173; see also the note by T. O. Mabbott in J. E. Spannuth’s Doings of Gotham, p. 71, and Poe’s reference in Letter 6, ibid.). Poe here identifies the notices in Graham’s, vol. XIX (July 1841). No other letters between Poe and Landor are known. [CL 308] [page 175:]

120 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [July 12, 1841]

Philadelphia July 12. 1841.

My Dear Snodgrass,

I have this moment received yours of the 10th, and am really glad to find that you have not quite given me up. A letter from you now is a novelty indeed.

The “Reproof of a Bird” shall appear in the September number. The last sheet of the August no: has already gone to press.

I am innocent of the elision in your quoted lines. Most probably the syllables were left out by our proof-reader, who looks over the articles after me, for such things as turned s’s & o’s, or battered type. Occasionally he takes strange liberties. In our forthcoming number he has substituted, (I see), a small for a capital R in Rosinante. Still — the lines read very well as they are, and thus no great harm is done. Every one is not to know that the last one is a finale to a stanza.

You say some of your monumental writers “feel small” — but is not that, for them, a natural feeling? I never had much opinion of Arthur. What little merit he has is negative. M’Jilton I like much better. He has written one or two very good things. As a man, also, I like him better. Do you know, by the bye, that W. G. Clark reproved me in his Gazette, for speaking too favorably of McJilton?

I re-enclose the notice of Soran. It was unavoidably crowded from the July no: and we thought it out of date, for the August[.] I have not read the book — but I would have been willing to take his merits upon your word.

You flatter me about the Maelström. It was finished in a hurry, and therefore its conclusion is imperfect. Upon the whole it is neither so good, nor has it been 1/2 so popular as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”. I have a paper in the August no: which will please you.

[page 2] Among the Reviews (for August) I have one which will, at least, surprise you. It is a long notice of a satire by a quondam Baltimorean L. A. Wilmer. You must get this satire & read it — it is really good — good in the old-fashioned Dryden style. It blazes away, too, to the right & left — sparing not. I have made it the text from which to preach a fire-&-fury sermon upon critical independence, and the general literary humbuggery of the day. I have introduced in this sermon some portion of a Review formerly written by me for the [page 176:] “Pittsburg Examiner”, a monthly journal which died in the first throes of its existence. It was edited by E. Burke Fisher Esqre — th[a]n whom a greater scamp never walked. He wrote to me offering 4$ per page for criticisms, promising to put them in as contributions — not editorially. The first thing I saw was one of my articles under the editorial head, so altered that I hardly recognized it, and interlarded with all manner of bad English and ridiculous opinions of his own. I believe, however, that the number in which it appeared, being <its> th last kick of the maga:, was never circulated.

I presume you get our Mag: regularly. It is mailed to your address.

Very cordially your friend,

Edgar A Poe.

Will you do me the favor to call at the Baltimore P.O. and enquire for a letter addressed to John P. Kennedy at Baltimore. By some absence of mind I directed it to that city in place of Washington. If still in the P.O. will you forward it to Washington?

“Reproof of a Bird,” a poem by Snodgrass, appeared in Graham’s, September 1841. The “elision” for which Poe apologizes undoubtedly occurred in Snodgrass’ article on poetry, in the June issue of Graham’s; and the reference to “a small for a capital R in Rosinante” has to do with Poe’s review of The Quacks of Helicon, by L. A. Wilmer, in the August number. T. S. Arthur owned and edited the Baltimore Monument, October 1836-October 18 (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 381), was in Philadelphia by 1841. (Dictionary of American Biography), and gained his greatest journalistic fame as editor of Leslie’s (February 1844-July 1846) and of his own Arthur’s Home Magazine, from 1853. McJilton, also an editor of the Monument, was one of the literary group during Poe’s stay in Baltimore; other members included W. H. Carpenter, N. C. Brooks, John Hewitt, and Rufus Dawes. Willis Gaylord Clark edited the Philadelphia Gazette; he had just died, and Graham’s (August 1841) carried a notice of his death. Snodgrass’ notice of Soran’s poems, requested by Poe in his April 1 letter, came too late, Poe having indicated the June number. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” had appeared in Graham’s, for April, and “A Descent into the Maelström,” in the May number. The “paper” in the August issue was “The Colloquy of Monos and Una.” Poe’s review of Wilmer’s The Quacks of Helicon incorporated portions of his earlier article on American Novel Writing, written for the Pittsburgh Literary Examiner, August 1839 number (see the notes to Letter 81). Poe’s article on the novel was run editorially by Fisher in the August 1839 issue, which was [page 177:] not the last “kick” of the magazine. Poe’s letter to Kennedy (Letter 114) was directed to Baltimore, but had been forwarded to Washington on June 22, according to postmark on the MS. [CL 311]

121 ⇒ TO TIMOTHEUS WHACKEMWELL [ADDRESSED TO J. N. MCJILTON] [August 11, 1841] [CL 317]

Philadelphia, August 11./ 41.

Dr Sir,

Your letter of yesterday is this moment received. A glance at the cipher which you suppose the more difficult of the two sent, assures me that its translation must run thus —

“This specimen of secret writing is sent you for explanation. If you succeed in divining its meaning, I will believe that you are some kin to Old Nick.”

As my solution in this case will fully convince you of my ability to decipher the longer but i[n]f[ini]tely more simple cryptograph, you will perhaps exc[use] me from attempting it — as I am exceedingly occupied with business.

Very truly yours.

Edgar A Poe.

Timotheus Whackemwell Esqr

A “Timotheus Whackemwell” of Baltimore sent Poe two ciphers for solution; Poe, believing he had identified “Whackemwell,” sent his reply to J. N. McJilton, an acquaintance of Baltimore, under the date of August 11; McJilton, on August 13, wrote disclaiming the identity. McJilton’s reply has neither heading nor salutation, and is signed “J. N. M.” It reads: “This is certainly intended for some one else. I know nothing of the matter whatever, nor should I be able to tell how the thing happened, but having seen the peice headed secret-writing pubd in Grahams Mag. noticed somewhere I suppose some wag has addressed you anonymously whom you have mistaken for me.” In his review of Walsh’s translation, Sketches of Conspicuous Living Characters in France, in Graham’s (April 1841, pp. 202-203), Poe had offered to solve any cryptograms submitted; in “A Few Words on Secret Writing,” in Graham’s, XIX (July 1841), 33-38, Poe stated that only “S. D. L.” had answered his challenge. In the October number (p. 192), Poe admits McJilton did not write the “Whackemwell” letter; he gives the reading for the cipher, but not the original cipher. [CL 317] [page 178:]

122 ⇒ TO LEA & BLANCHARD [August 13, 1841] [CL 318]

Mess. Lea & Blanchard, Gentlemen,

I wish to publish a new collection of my prose Tales with some such title as this-“The Prose Tales of Edgar A. Poe, Including “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, The “Descent into The Maelstrom”, and all his later pieces, with a second edition of the “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque”.

The “later pieces” will be eight in number, making the entire collection thirty-three-which would occupy two thick novel volumes. I am anxious that your firm should continue to be my publishers, and, if you would be willing to bring out the book, I should be glad to accept the terms which you allowed me before — that is — you receive all profits, and allow me twenty copies for distribution to friends.

Will you be kind enough to give me an early reply to this letter, and believe me

Yours very resply

Edgar A Poe

Philadelphia,

Office Graham’s Magazine,

August 13./ 41.

The “later pieces,” those published or at least written by the date of the letter, were probably “The Business Man,” in Burton’s, VI (February 1840), 87-89; “The Man of the Crowd,” in Graham’s, VII (December 1840), 267-270; “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” in Graham’s, XVIII (April 1841), 166-179; “A Descent into the Maelstrom,” Graham’s, XVIII (May 1841), pp. 235-241; “The Island of the Fay,” Graham’s, XVIII (June 1841), pp. 253-255; “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” Graham’s, XIX (August 1841), 52-55; “Never Bet the Devil Your Head,” Graham’s, XIX (September 1841), 124-127; “Eleonora,” in the Gift, 1842, and in the Boston Notion, September 4, 1841. Lea and Blanchard had published, in December 1839, Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (see letter of Lea and Blanchard to Poe, September 28, 1839, in Quinn, Poe, pp. 287-289; but see the note to Letter 87). Lea and Blanchard (August 16) gave Poe an “early reply,” declining his suggestion and adding that they had not yet “got through the edition of the other work” (see H, XVII, 101-102). [CL 318] [page 179:]

123 ⇒ TO HASTINGS WELD [August 14, 1841] [CL 320]

Philadelphia, August 14, 1841

Hastings Weld, Esqr.,

Dear Sir: —

The proprietor of a weekly paper in this city is about publishing an article (to be written partly by myself) on the subject of American Autography. The design is three-fold: first, to give the Autograph signature — that is, a f ac-simile in woodcut — of each of our most distinguished literati; second, to maintain that the character is, to a certain extent, indicated by the chirography; and thirdly, to embody, under each Autograph, some literary gossip about the individual, with a brief critical comment on his writings.

My object in addressing you now is to request that you would favor me with your own Autograph, in a reply to this letter. I would be greatly obliged to you, also, could you make it convenient to give me a brief summary of your literary career.

We are still in want of the Autographs of Sprague, Hoffman, Dawes, Bancroft, Emerson, Whittier, R. A. Locke, and Stephens, the traveller. If among your papers you have the Autographs of either of these gentlemen (the signature will suffice), and will permit me to have an engraving taken from it, I will endeavor to reciprocate the obligation in any manner which you may suggest.

Should you grow weary, at any time, of abusing me in the “Jonathan” for speaking what no man knows to be truth better than yourself, it would give me sincere pleasure to cultivate the friendship of the author of “Corrected Proofs.” In the meantime, I am

Very respy. Yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

The Reverend Horatio Hastings Weld was a minor New York literary figure. Besides having written Corrected Proofs, a volume of verse and sketches in the Willis manner, and being a regular contributor of serials to the “mammoth” publications like Brother Jonathan, he was editor, at the time of the present letter, of the Dollar Magazine, a monthly edition containing the same type of material as that in the Jonathan and published by the same people (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 359-360). Poe included Weld in “Autography,” Graham’s, [page 180:] December 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 229). The article also included autographs of Sprague, Hoffman, Dawes, Emerson, Whittier, and Locke; but whether Weld provided the signatures is unknown. [CL 320]

124 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [September 1, 1841] [CL 325]

Philadelphia — Sep. 1. — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

Griswold left a note for me at the office, the other day, requesting me to furnish him with some memoranda of your life; and it will, of course, give me great pleasure to do so; but, upon sitting down to the task, I find that neither myself, nor Mrs Clemm, upon whom I mainly depend for information, can give all the necessary points with sufficient precision for G’s purpose. Just send me a line, therefore, answering the following queries, and I will put your responses into shape. Most of the points we know, but not with full certainty.

What is your father’s Christian name? Had your parents more children than yourself, Lewis, Frances, Susan, Martha, Isabella & Jackson? — if so, what were their names? When & where were you born? With whom did you study law? What was (exactly) the cause of your lameness? How did you first become known to the literary world? Who were your most intimate associates in Baltimore? When did you remove to Cincinnati? With what papers have you been occasionally connected — if with any? Besides answering these queries — give me a list of your writings published & unpublished — and some memoranda respecting your late lectures at Washington. Reply as soon as possible, as the volume is in press.

I understand that Dow has a paper in Alexandria — how does he get on with it?

I am still jogging on in the same old way, and will probably remain with Graham, even if I start the “Penn” in January. Our success (Graham’s I mean) is astonishing — we shall print 20,000 copies shortly. When he bought Burton out, the joint circulation was only 5000. I have had some excellent offers respecting the “Penn” and it is more than probable that it will go on.

How do you get on yourself? I have been expecting a letter from you.

Yours truly & constantly

Edgar A Poe. [page 181:]

The Griswold note to Poe is unlocated. Thomas’ autobiographical data (printed in H, XVII, 95-100, under the date of August 3, 1841) is certainly to be dated September 3 (MS. in Boston Public Library), for Thomas prefaces the data (preface omitted by Harrison) with: “Yours of yesterday [September 1] came to hand duly — about the time you were writing me, I was writting you [August 30].” For Jesse E. Dow, see the Poe-Thomas correspondence, passim. [CL 325]

125 ⇒ TO LEWIS J. CIST [September 18, 1841] [CL 329]

Philadelphia — Sep: 18 — 41.

My Dear Sir,

I have only this moment received your letter of the 30th ult. having been absent from the city for some time. I feel that I have been guilty of a sad neglect in the matter of your poem; but my conscience absolves me of any intentional disrespect or discourtesy. The facts stand thus. Upon abandoning the design of “The Penn Magazine”, and joining Mr Graham in his own, I handed over to Mr Peterson (the then editor of that journal and who hereafter was to act as my associate; his especial duty being that of revising MSS for press and attending to the general arrangement of the matter) — I handed over to this gentleman your “Bachelor Philosophy” together with a large bundle of other articles — sent me for “The Penn.” — I assumed no right of transferring articles in this manner; and my intention was (as soon as I could steal a moment’s leisure from the world of business which just at that period overwhelmed me) to communicate by letter with each of my correspondents, requesting permission for such transfer. In many cases I did write, and succeeded in obtaining the requisite permission. My impression was that I had secured your consent with that of others — your consent, I mean, for publishing the poem in Graham’s Magazine. It remained, therefore, with the rest, in Mr Peterson’s hands — but only for the purpose specified. Mr. Peterson, however, (who has a third interest in the “Saturday Evening Post” and superintends the “getting up” of that paper also) has taken the unwarrantable liberty, it seems, of using the poem to suit his own views — leaving out of question my positive understanding and intention on the subject. I seldom look at the paper, except occasionally at a proof of some of my own articles in it, and the publication of your [page 182:] verses did not meet my eye: otherwise I should have written you at once in explanation and apology. You will not be surprised that I failed to miss your article in the Magazine, or to make inquiry respecting it — if you comprehend the nature of the confusion attendant upon the joint issue of a paper and Magazine — especially when you consider that the disposition of the MSS — the drudgery of the business — does not fall to my share. I merely write the Reviews, with a tale monthly, and read the last proofs. As to the insertion of your poem in the “Saturday Evening Post” with the words — “writ[page 2]ten for The Post” — it is a downright falsehood on the part of Mr P. which nothing can extenuate — a falsehood wilfully perpetrated — of a kind which he is in the habit of perpetrating, and which have before involved me most disagreeably. Not long ago wishing to procure a printed copy of a poem of my own called “A Ballad”, and originally published in the “S. L. Mess.” I handed it to Mr P. for re-publication in the “Post” with the heading “From the South. L. Messenger”; and you may imagine my chagrin at seeing it appear with the same caption as your “Bachelor Philosophy.”

I make no scruple in thus indicating to you plainly the origin of the contre-temps which has so justly annoyed you. I must absolve myself, at all hazards, from suspicion of falsehood — let the charge fall upon whom it may. Of intentional discourtesy you will, of course, acquit me. To the accusation of neglect I plead guilty, offering only in extenuation, the press of business which has lately harassed and confused me.

With the highest respect

I am Yr Ob St.

Edgar A Poe

L. J. Cist Esqr

Poe briefly treated Lewis J. Cist, of Cincinnati, in his “Autography,” in Graham’s, December 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 240), where he spoke of Cist more as a writer of poetry than of prose. For Poe’s abandoning the Penn project and affiliating himself with Graham, see Letter 109, postscript and note. Charles J. Peterson was an editor of Graham’s. Poe printed his “Ballad” in the SLM, I (August 1835), 705-706 (see Campbell, Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, p. 301); his “Bridal Ballad,” undoubtedly a revision of the earlier “Ballad,” appeared in the SLM, January 1837, and in the Saturday Evening Post, July 31, 1841 (see Campbell, Poems, p. 234). [CL 329] [page 183:]

126 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [September 19, 1841] [CL 329]

Philadelphia — Sep. 19. 41.

My Dear Snodgrass,

I seize the first moment of leisure to say a few words in reply to yours of Sep. 6.

Touching the “Reproof of a Bird,” I hope you will give yourself no uneasiness about it. We don’t mind the contre-temps; and as for Godey, it serves him right, as you say. The moment I saw the article in The “Lady’s Book”, I saw at once how it all happened.

You are mistaken about “The Dial”. I have no quarrel in the world with that illustrious journal, nor it with me. I am not aware that it ever mentioned my name, or alluded to me either directly or indirectly. My slaps at it were only in “a general way.” The tale in question is a mere Extravaganza levelled at no one in particular, but hitting right & left at things in general.

The “Knickerbocker” has been purchased by Otis Broadus [Broaders ?] & co of Boston. I believe it is still edited by Clark the brother of W. Gaylord.

Thank you for attending to the Kennedy matter. We have no news here just yet — something may turn up by & bye. It is not impossible that Graham will join me in The “Penn.” He has money. By the way, is it impossible to start a first-class Mag: in Baltimore? Is there no publisher or gentleman of moderate capital who would join me in the scheme? — publishing the work in the City of Monuments.

Do write me soon & tell me the news,

Yours most cordially

Edgar A Poe

“A Bird’s Reproof,” by Snodgrass, appeared in Godey’s, XXIII (September 1841), 137; and “Reproof of a Bird,” also by Snodgrass, appeared in Graham’s, XIX (September 1841), 103. Though under slightly different titles, the two printings of the poem are essentially the same in text, except that variations occur in wording and punctuation, and there is an extra stanza in the Graham’s printing. After receiving the MS., Godey probably delayed printing, and Snodgrass then submitted a revision to Graham’s, both magazines finally printing the poem in the [page 184:] same month. The Dial, a quarterly published between July 1840, and April 1844, was at this time edited by Margaret Fuller (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 702), against whom Poe later aimed several sharp criticisms. Poe’s “slaps” apparently were contained in his “Extravaganza,” “Never Bet Your Head,” in Graham’s, September 1841, pp. 124-127. Mott (History of American Magazines, I, 606) gives “L. G. Clark (?)” as the publisher of the Knickerbocker for 1840-1841; but if Poe is here correct, Mott’s question concerning Clark’s publishing of the magazine is answered; the MS. is not clear, nor are the letters sufficiently distinct, for the correct spelling of the new publisher; William Hand Browne transcribed “Broadus,” but others have read “Broaders,” and Browne’s earlier reading would normally carry weight. W. Gaylord Clark, brother of Lewis, had been editor of the Philadelphia Gazette until his death, June 13, 1841; Graham’s carried a eulogy in its August 1841 issue. Snodgrass may have been editor of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter at this time (see Letter 90 and note), and Poe may have meant him as the “publisher or gentleman of moderate capital.” [CI. 330]

127 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [October 27, 1841] [CL 334]

Philadelphia — Oct. 27 — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

I received your last some days ago, and have delayed answering it, in hope that I might say your song was out, and that I might give you my opinion and Virginia’s about its merits. As soon as I received the MS. I took it forthwith to Willig, who promised me that it should be ready in a week. I called three or four times, and still the answer was — “in a day or two”. Yesterday I called again; when he positively assured me that it would be out on Monday. As soon as it is done, he will forward some copies (he did not say how many) to your address at Washington. Virginia is very anxious to see it, as your “‘Tis said that absence” &c is a great favorite with her.

I have not your last letter at hand, and cannot therefore reply to it point by point. You said something about judge Upshur’s book — or rather about “The Partisan Leader”; for he did not write it — neither judge Tucker, I think. It seems to me that it was written by someone in Petersburg — but I am not sure. I am not personally acquainted with judge Upshur; but I have a profound respect for his talents. He is not only the most graceful speaker I ever heard, but [page 185:] one of the most graceful & luminous writers. His head is a model for statuary — Speaking of heads — my own has been examined by several phrenologists — all of whom spoke of me in a species of extravaganza which I should be ashamed to repeat.

In our autograph article for November your name was crowded out on account of the length of the comment upon it. It heads the list in the December no; which is already finished.

Griswold’s book will be issued in January.

I am glad to hear of Dows’ success. I wonder he never sends me an “Index”.

Our Mag: is progressing at the most astounding rate. When Burton was bought out — you know when that was — the joint list of both Mags. was 5000. In January we print 25000. Such a thing was never heard of before. Ah, if we could only get up the “Penn”! I have made a definite engagement with Graham for 1842 — but nothing to interfere with my own scheme, should I be able by any good luck, to go into it. Graham holds out a hope of his joining me in July. Is there no one among your friends at Washington — no one having both brains & funds who would engage in such an enterprise? Perhaps not. I comfort myself, however, with the assurance that the [time] must come when I shall have a journal under my own control. Till then — patience.

Do write me soon, and say something of your own hopes and views. What are you about in the scribbling way?

Sincerely your friend

Edgar A. Poe

Have you read Simm’s new book?

Judge Nathaniel Beverley Tucker was the author of the Partisan Leader (1836), reviewed (unsigned) by judge Abel Parker Upshur in the SLM, II (January 1837), 73-89, according to B. B. Minor in Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864, p. 63. Poe’s article on Thomas in “Autography,” Graham’s, December 1841, is reprinted in H, XV, 209-210. Poe probably refers to Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America, published in April 1842; for it, Poe apparently wrote a sketch of Thomas, but Griswold did not use it (see Letters 124 and 143). William Gilmore Simms was a rather prolific novelist of this period, several times reviewed by Poe. [CL 334] [page 186:]

128 ⇒ TO LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY [November 10, 1841] [CL 342]

Philadelphia. Nov. 10. 1841.

Dear Madam.

Since my connexion, as editor, with “Graham’s Magazine”, of this city, I have been sadly disappointed to find that you deem us unworthy your correspondence. Month after month elapses, and, although our list numbers “good names,” we still miss that of Mrs Sigourney. Is there no mode of tempting you to send us an occasional contribution? Mr Graham desires me to say that he would be very especially obliged if you could furnish, “him with a poem, however brief, for the January number. His compensation — for the days of gratuitous contributions are luckily gone by — will be at least as liberal as that of any publisher in America. May I hope to hear from you in reply? Excuse, dear Madam, this villanous steel pen, and believe me with high respect

Yr Mo ob St

Edgar A Poe

Mrs L. H. Sigourney.

Mrs. Sigourney contributed a poem, “To a Land Bird at Sea,” to Graham’s, XX (January 1842), 9. According to Poe’s article, “The Pay for Periodical Writing,” in the Weekly Mirror, I (October 19, 1844), 28, Graham paid prose writers from $2 to $12 a page, and poets from $5 to $50 an “article” (Quinn, Poe, p. 341). Prices were probably much less in 1841; for Poe offered Snodgrass “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” for the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, in his letter of June 4, 1842, at $4 a page, “the usual Magazine price.” [CL 342]

129 ⇒ TO LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY [November 15, 1841] [CL 345]

Philadelphia Nov. 16. 1842 [1841]

Dear Madam,

I hasten to reply to yours of the 13th, and to thank you for your consent in the matter of contribution to our January number. We are forced to go to press at a very early period — for our edition is, in reality, twenty-five thousand — so that it would be desirable we should have your article in hand by the 1rst December. We shall look [page 187:] for it with much anxiety, as we are using every exertion to prepare a number of more than ordinary attraction. So far, we have been quite successful. We shall have papers from Longfellow, Benjamin, Willis, Fay, Herbert, Mrs, Stephens, Mrs Embury, Dr Reynell Coates, and (what will surprise you) from Sergeant Talfourd, author of “Ion” — besides others of nearly equal celebrity.

Is it not possible that we can make an arrangement with yourself for an article each month? It would give us the greatest pleasure to do so; and the terms of Mr Graham will be at least as liberal as those of any publisher. Shall we hear from you upon this point?

I regret that I am unable to answer your query touching the “Messenger”; — nor do I believe it answerable[.] Since my secession, I think that Mr White has had no regular editor. He depends pretty much upon chance, [page 2] for assistance in the conduct of the Magazine — sometimes procuring aid from Mr James E. Heath, of Richmond — sometimes (but not of late days) from Judge Beverly Tucker, author of “George Balcombe”. Mr. Benjamin has occasionally furnished him with editorial or, rather, critical matters, and Mr R. W. Griswold has lately written much for the Magazine.

I am, Dear Madam, With the highest respect,

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Mrs L. H. Sigourney

Following Poe’s editorship of the Southern Literary Messenger, Thomas W. White edited the magazine, very much as Poe says, from February 1837-December 1839 (?) ; then he was assisted by Matthew F. Maury, January 1840 (?)-September 1842, after which Maury edited it alone until July 1843 (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 629). Mr. White died in January 1843, and Benjamin B. Minor took over the SLM interests in July 1843. [CL 345]

130 ⇒ TO RICHARD BOLTON [November 18, 1841] [CL 346]

Philadelphia Nov. 18. 41.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 4th is this moment received; and I hasten to exonerate myself from a very unpleasant suspicion — the suspicion, no doubt long since entertained by yourself, that I wished to deny you the honors of victory — and a participation in its spoils. [page 188:]

A word in explanation will suffice. You must know, then, that our edition is, in fact, exceedingly large. We print 25000 copies. Of course much time is required to prepare them. Our last “form” necessarily goes to press a full month in advance of the day of issue. It often happens, moreover, that the last form in order is not the last in press. Our first form is usually held back until the last moment on account of the “plate article.” Upon this hint you will easily see the possibility of your letter not having come to hand in season for acknowledgment in the November number. Otherwise, I should have had high gratification in sharing with you then, the reputation of a bottle-conjurer — for thus the matter seems to stand. In our December number, (which has been quite ready for ten days) you will find an unqualified acknowledgment of your claims — without even allusion to the slight discrepancies for which I believe the printer is chargeable. I mean to say that you have (I believe) solved the cypher as printed. My solution follows the MS. — both are correct.

Allow me, Dear Sir, now to say that I was never more astonished in my life than at your solution. Will you honestly tell me? — did you not owe it to the accident of the repetition of the word “itagi?” for “those”? This repetition does not appear in the MS. — at least I [page 2] am pretty sure that it was interpolated by one of our compositors — a “genius” who takes much interest in these matters — and many unauthorized liberties.

In Dr Frailey’s MS. were many errors — the chief of which I corrected for press — but mere blunders do not really much affect the difficulty of cypher solution — as you, no doubt, perceive. I had also to encounter the embarrasment of a miserably cramped & confused penmanship. Here you had the advantage of me — a very important advantage.

Be all this as it may — your solution astonished me. You will accuse me of vanity in so saying-but truth is truth. I make no question that it even astonished yourself — and well it might — for from among at least 100,000 readers — a great number of whom, to my certain knowledge busied themselves in the investigation — you and I are the only persons who have succeeded.

It is unnecessary to trouble yourself with the cipher printed in our Dec. number — it is insoluble for the reason that it is merely type in pi or something near it. Being absent from the office for a short time, I did not see a proof and the compositors have made a [page 189:] complete medley. It has not even a remote resemblance to the MS.

I should be delighted to hear from you at all times — Believe me —

Yours very resply

Edgar A Poe

R. Bolton Esqr

Edward S. Sears, author of the article in the Commercial Appeal (see Note 130), also prints Bolton’s letter of November 4, 1841, and one dated “June 10,” 1842, which should be January 10, 1842 (according to a letter to me from W. K. Wimsatt, Jr.; see Publications of the Modern Language Association, LVIII (September 1943), 754-779). In Graham’s, XIX (December 1841), 308, Poe says that of the 100,000 readers of the magazine, “one and only one” solved Dr. Frailey’s cryptograph, which had appeared in the August number. The honor, he says, belongs to “Mr. Richard Bolton, of Pontotoc, Mississippi,” but adds that the solution arrived too late for inclusion in the November issue. In Letter 131 Poe discredits Bolton’s first solving of the cryptogram by saying, “He pretends not to have seen my solution-but his own contains internal evidence of the fact.” For an analysis of the problem, see William F. Friedman, “Edgar Allan Poe, Cryptographer,” American Literature, VIII (November 1936), 266-280, where he concludes: “I must declare that Poe had utterly no foundation for his suspicion [stated to Thomas]. Internal evidence in Bolton’s solution ... serves to indicate conclusively that his work was accomplished without the key. Nowhere can one find ‘three blunders in mine [Poe’s] which are copied in his own ... ’ Poe did not ... deny having received the latter’s solution mailed on September 9 ... Poe must have received it by October 9. The key to the cryptogram did not appear in the September number ... but ... in the October number, which could not possibly have arrived before September 9” (ibid., p. 276). No other letter from Poe to Bolton is known. [CL 346]

131 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [November 26, 1841] [CL 348]

Philadelphia, Nov. 26 — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

I am astonished to hear that you have not yet received the music, as, upon receipt of your last, I procured it of Willig, and put it into the hands of Burgess, our Magazine agent here, who promised to <follow> forward it to Taylor the Magazine agent in Washington. Taylor was to deliver it to you. You had better call upon him. It is the same man upon whom you had the draft. [page 190:]

You need not put yourself to trouble about Prentice’s autograph, as we have now closed that business. I suppose you have not the December number yet — it has been ready for several weeks. The January no: is nearly prepared — we have an autograph article in each. Should Prentice send on his signature, however, I would be glad to get it.

In the Dec. no: you will see a notice to the effect that a Mr Richard Bolton, of Pontotoc Miss.i, has solved Dr Frailey’s cypher. You must put no great faith in this announcement. Mr Bolton sent me a letter dated at a period long after the reception of our Magazines in Pontotoc, and fully a month after the preparation of the number containing the answer by myself. He pretends [page 2] not to have seen my solution — but his own contains internal evidence of the fact. Three blunders in mine are copied in his own, & two or three corrections of Dr Frailey’s original, by myself, are also faithfully repeated. I had the alternative of denying his claim and thus appearing invidious, or of sharing with him an honor which, in the eyes of the mob at least, is not much above that of a bottle-conjuror: so I chose the last and have put a finale to this business.

Touching your study of the French language. You will, I fear, find it difficult-as, (if I rightly understood you,) you have not received what is called a “classical” education. To the Latin & Greek proficient, the study of all additional languages is mere play — but to the non-proficient it is anything else. The best advice I can give you, under the circumstances, is to busy yourself with the theory or grammar of the language as little as possible & to read side-by-side translations continually, of which there are many to be found. I mean French books in which the literal English version is annexed page per page. Board, also, at a French boarding-house, and force yourself to speak French — bad or good — whether you [page 3] can or whether you cannot.

I have not heard from Kennedy for a long time, and I think, upon the whole, he has treated me somewhat cavalierly — professing to be a friend.

I would give the world to see you once again and have a little chat. Dow you & I — “when shall we three meet again?” Soon, I hope — for I must try & slip over to Washington some of these days.

Do you hear often from your friends at St Louis? When you write, remember me kindly to your sister Frances — if I may take the liberty [page 191:] of requesting to be remembered where, never having been known personally, there can be nothing to remember. We have had “Clinton Bradshaw” here (the confounded “devils” will print it Bradshawe) and the “Dedication” has set us all to thinking & talking about the “dedicatee”[.]

God bless you —

Edgar A Poe

For Thomas’ song, see Thomas to Poe, September 22, November 6 and 23, 1841 (MSS. in the Boston Public Library; unpublished), and Letter 127. Poe’s “Autography” articles in Graham’s for December 1841, and January 1842, are reprinted in H, XV, 209-261. For the reference to Bolton, see Letter 130 and note. Poe’s early training in classical and modern languages (see Quinn, Poe, pp- 71, 99-101) may account for the advice given Thomas. Poe had not received a letter from J. P. Kennedy, apparently, since April 26, 1836. For Jesse E. Dow, see the note to Letter 197. Clinton Bradshaw (1835) was Thomas’ first novel; Poe may have had it in hand either for the preparation of notes on Thomas’ biography requested by Griswold (see Letter 124) or, more likely, for the “Autography” article, which included Thomas, in Graham’s, December 1841 (see H, XV, 209-210). The dedication to the first edition of Clinton Bradshaw reads: “To my sister, Frances Ann / My Dear Sister,/ As a slight acknowledgment of your affection, I / inscribe these volumes with your name./ Your affectionate brother,/ The Author./ Philadelphia, Sept. 17, 1835.” (This dedication was supplied through the courtesy of Thomas O. Mabbott, from the first edition copy of the novel in the Yale University Library.) [CL 348]

132 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [February 3, 1842] [CL 356]

Philadelphia Feb. 3, ‘42.

My dear Friend:

I am sure you will pardon me for my seeming neglect in not replying to your last when you learn what has been the cause of the delay. My dear little wife has been dangerously ill. About a fortnight since, in singing, she ruptured a blood-vessel, and it was only on yesterday that the physicians gave me any hope of her recovery. You might imagine the agony I have suffered, for you know how devotedly I love her. But to-day the prospect brightens, and I trust that this bitter cup of misery will not be my portion. I seize the first moment of hope and relief to reply to your kind words. [page 192:]

You ask me how I come on with Graham? Will you believe it Thomas? On the morning subsequent to the accident I called upon him, and, being entirely out of his debt, asked an advance of two months salary — when he not only flatly but discourteously refused. Now that man knows that I have rendered him the most important services; he cannot help knowing it, for the fact is rung in his ears by every second person who visits the office, and the comments made by the press are too obvious to be misunderstood.

The project of the new Magazine still (you may be sure) occupies my thoughts. If I live, I will accomplish it, and in triumph. By the way, there is one point upon which I wish to consult you. You are personally acquainted with Robert Tyler, author of “Ahasuerus.” In this poem there are many evidences of power, and, what is better, of nobility of thought & feeling. In reading it, an idea struck me — “Might it not,” I thought, “be possible that he would, or rather might be induced to feel some interest in my contemplated scheme, perhaps even to take an interest in something of the kind — an interest either open or secret?” The Magazine might be made to play even an important part in the politics of the day, like Blackwood; and in this view might be worthy his consideration. Could you contrive to suggest the matter to him? Provided I am permitted a proprietary right in the journal, I shall not be very particular about the extent of that right. If, instead of a paltry salary, Graham had given me a tenth of his Magazine, I should feel myself a rich man to-day. When he bought out Burton, the joint circulation was 4,500, and we have printed of the February number last, 40,000. Godey, at the period of the junction, circulated 30,000, and, in spite of the most strenuous efforts, has not been able to prevent his list from falling. I am sure that he does not print more than 30,000 to-day. His absolute circulation is about 20,000. Now Godey, in this interval, has surpassed Graham in all the externals of a good Magazine. His paper is better, his type far better, and his engravings fully as good; but I fear I am getting sadly egotistical. I would not speak so plainly to any other than yourself. How delighted I would be to grasp you by the hand!

As regards the French — get into a French family by all means — read much, write more, & give grammar to the dogs.

You are quizzing me about the autographs. I was afraid to say more than one half of what I really thought of you, lest it should be attributed to personal friendship. Those articles have had a great [page 193:] run — have done wonders for the journal — but I fear have also done me, personally, much injury. I was weak enough to permit Graham to modify my opinions (or at least their expression) in many of the notices. In the case of Conrad, for example; he insisted upon praise and worried me into speaking well of such ninnies as Holden, Peterson, Spear, &c., &c. I would not have yielded had I thought it made much difference what one said of such puppets as these, but it seems the error has been made to count against my critical impartiality. Know better next time. Let no man accuse me of leniency again.

I do not believe that Ingraham stole “Lafitte.”

No, Benjamin does not write the political papers in the “New World,” but I cannot say who does. I cannot bring myself to like that man, although I wished to do so, and although he made some advances, of late, which you may have seen. He is too thorough-souled a time-server. I would not say again what I said of him in the “Autography.”

Did you read my review of “Barnaby Rudge” in the Feb. No.? You see that I was right throughout in my predictions about the plot. Was it not you who said you believed I would find myself mistaken?

Remember me kindly to Dow. I fear he has given me up; never writes; never sends a paper.

Will you bear in mind what I say about R. Tyler?

God bless you.

Edgar A. Poe.

F. W. Thomas.

Poe still hoped to publish the Penn Magazine and was trying to enlist the aid of Robert Tyler, son of the President of the United States and a friend of Thomas. For Robert Tyler’s high opinion of Poe as a critic, see Thomas to Poe, February 26, 1842 (MS. in the Boston Public Library; printed under the wrong date of February 6 in both H, XVII, 105-106, and W, 1, 318-321). Poe’s “Autography” in Graham’s for December 1841, included articles on Thomas G. Spear, Ezra Holden, Robert T. Conrad, and Charles J. Peterson (see H, XV, 210-211, 212, 232-233, 23 f ). Poe reviewed Joseph H. Ingraham’s Lafitte in the SLM, August 1836 (reprinted in H, 1x, 106-116). Poe included Park Benjamin, editor of the New World, in his “Autography,” Graham’s, November 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 183-184). In a “prospective notice” in the Saturday Evening Post, May 1, 1841, Poe anticipated the plot of Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge; he reviewed the book at length, recalling his earlier analysis, in Graham’s, February 1842 (reprinted in H, XI, 38-64). [CL 356] [page 194:]

133 ⇒ TO JOHN N. MCJILTON [March 13, 1842] [CL 361]

Philadelphia — March 13, 1842.

My Dear Sir,

I duly received your letter of the 14th ult, accompanying Miss Wetherald’s Translation. My silence, for so long an interval, will have assured you that the article is accepted with pleasure. Mr Graham, however, desires me to say that it will be out of his power to pay more than 2$ per printed page for translations. Should these terms meet the views of Miss Wetherald, we should be glad to receive from her, each month, an article similar to the one sent, and not exceeding three or four pages in length.

It will be inconvenient, just now, to furnish French periodicals, as suggested: — but the task of selection may well be left in the hands of Miss Wetherald, of whose abilities as a French translator I am fully satisfied, and of whose taste I am well assured by the character of the paper now furnished. Similar pieces would suit my own views better than others “more in the story-telling style of the day.”

Why do I not hear from you occasionally as in “the olden time?”

With the Highest Respect,

YrObSt

Edgar A Poe

Rev. J. N. McJilton.

“Russian Revenge,” translated from the French, by Esther Wetherald appeared in Graham’s, XX (June 1842), 322-325. For the only other known correspondence between Poe and McJilton, see the note to Letter 121. [CL 361]

 


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Notes:

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.


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