Text: John Ward Ostrom, “Letters: Chapter V,” The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (1966), pp. 195-248 (This material is protected by copyright)


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May 1842 - March 1844

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134 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [May 25, 1842] [CL 365]

Philadelphia May 25. 1842.

My Dear Thomas,

Through an accident I have only just now received yours of the 21rst. Believe me, I never dreamed of doubting your friendship, or of reproaching you for your silence. I knew you had your reasons for it; and, in this matter, I feel that you have acted for me more judiciously, by far, than I should have done for myself. You have shown yourself, from the first hour of our acquaintance, that rara avis in terris — a true friend. Nor am I the man to be unmindful of your kindness.

What you say respecting a situation in the Custom House here, gives me new life. Nothing could more precisely meet my views. Could I obtain such an appointment, I would be enabled thoroughly to carry out all my ambitious projects. It would relieve me of all care as regards a mere subsistence, and thus allow me time for thought, which, in fact, is action. I repeat that I would ask, for nothing farther or better than a situation such as you mention. If the salary will barely enable me to live I shall be content. Will you say as much for me to Mr Tyler, and express to him my sincere gratitude for the interest he takes in my welfare?

The report of my having parted company with Graham, is correct; although, in the forthcoming June number, there is no announcement to that effect; nor had the papers any authority for the statement made. My duties ceased with the May number. I shall continue to contribute occasionally. Griswold succeeds me. My reason for resigning was dis- [page 2] gust with the namby-pamby character of the Magazine — a character which it was impossible to eradicate — I allude to the contemptible pictures, fashion-plates, music and love tales. The salary, moreover, did not pay me for the labor which I was forced to bestow. With Graham who is really a very gentlemanly, although an exceedingly weak man, I had no misunderstanding.

I am rejoiced to say that my dear little wife is much better, and I [page 198:] have strong hope of her ultimate recovery. She desires her kindest regards — as also Mrs Clemm.

I have moved from the old place — but should you pay an unexpected visit to Philadelphia you will find my address at Graham’s. I would give the world to shake you by the hand; and have a thousand things to talk about which would not come within the compass of a letter.

Write immediately upon receipt of this, if possible, and do let me know something of yourself, your own doings and prospects: — see how excellent an example of egotism I set you. Here is a letter nearly every word of which is about myself or my individual affairs.

You saw White — little Tom. I am anxious to know what he said about things in general. He is a character if ever one was.

God bless you —

Edgar A Poe

F. W. Thomas.

Thomas’ silence was directly due to his trying to interest Robert Tyler in Poe’s welfare. Poe’s salary with Graham was $800 a year for his editorial duties; he probably received extra pay for his contributions, varying, according to references in his correspondence, from four to five dollars “a Graham page”; Graham was forced to be more liberal with men like Lowell, Longfellow, Cooper, and Willis (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 506-507). For Poe’s change of residence, see Quinn, Poe, pp. 273-274. Thomas W. White was the editor and publisher of the Southern Literary Messenger. [CL 365]

135 ⇒ TO JAMES HERRON [June 1842] [CL 367]

[Philadelphia, early June, 1842.]

[... ] anticipated my design, and a notice had already been inserted, but only as a communication — not editorially.

Believe me that I sincerely rejoice in your good fortune; or rather in the success which you so well earned and deserved; but my means of serving you through the papers have been less than my desire to do so. You have learned, perhaps, that I have retired from “Graham’s Magazine”. The state of my mind has, in fact, forced me to abandon for the present, all mental exertion. The renewed and hopeless illness of my wife, ill health on my own part, and pecuniary embarrassments, have nearly driven me to distraction. My only hope of relief is the [page 199:] “Bankrupt Act”, of which I shall avail myself as soon as possible. Had I resolved upon this at an earlier day, I might now have been doing well — but the struggle to keep up has, at length, entirely ruined me. I have left myself without even the means of availing myself of the act, [page 2] [... ]

You will be pleased to hear that I have the promise of a situation in our Custom-House. The offer was entirely unexpected & gratuitous. I am to receive the appointment upon removal of several incumbents — the removal to be certainly made in a month. I am indebted to the personal friendship of Robert Tyler. If I really receive the appointment all may yet go well. The labors of the office are by no means onerous and I shall have time enough to spare for other pursuits. Please mention nothing of this — for, after all, I may be disappointed.

Mrs Poe is again dangerously ill with hemorrhage from the lungs. It is folly to hope.

With sincere esteem & friendship


Edgar A Poe

Jas. Herron Esqre

James Herron, an engineer, invented a trellis railway structure; he described it in a book: A Practical Description of Herron’s Patent Trellis Railway Structure (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1841), which was reviewed in Graham’s, October 1841, p. 192. Poe left Graham’s “with the May number,” published about April 15. Poe never received the appointment to an office in the Philadelphia Custom House. Virginia Poe ruptured a blood vessel, while she was singing, about the middle of January 1842, and for some time doctors despaired of her recovery (see Letter 132); Poe is here referring to a recurrence of her illness. [CL 367]

136 ⇒ TO GEORGE ROBERTS [June 4, 1842] [CL 368]

Philadelphia — June 4 1842.

My Dear Sir.

It is just possible that you may have seen a tale of mine entitled “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and published, originally, in “Graham’s Magazine” for April 1841. Its theme was the exercise of ingenuity in the detection of a murderer. I have just completed a [page 200:] similar article, which I shall entitle “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt — a Sequel to the Murders in the Rue Morgue”. The story is based upon the assassination of Mary Cecilia Rogers, which created so vast an excitement, some months ago, in New-York. I have, however, handled my design in a manner altogether novel in literature. I have imagined a series of nearly exact coincidences occurring in Paris. A young grisette, one Marie Rogêt, has been murdered under precisely similar circumstances with Mary Rogers. Thus, under pretence of showing how Dupin (the hero of “The Rue Morgue unravelled the mystery of Marie’s assassination, I, in reality, enter into a very long and rigorous analysis of the New-York tragedy. No point is omitted. I examine, each by each, the opinions and arguments of the press upon the subject, and show that this subject has been, hitherto, unapproached. In fact, I believe not only that I have demonstrated the fallacy of the general idea — that the girl was the victim of a gang of ruffians — but have indicated the assassin in a manner which will give renewed impetus to investigation. My main object, nevertheless, as you will readily understand, is an analysis of the true principles which should direct inquiry in similar cases. From the nature of the subject, I feel convinced that the article will excite attention, and it has occurred to me that you would be willing to purchase it for the forthcoming Mammoth Notion. It will make 25 pages of Graham’s Magazine; and, at the usual price, would be worth to me $100. For reasons, however, which I need not specify, I am desirous [page 2] of having this tale printed in Boston, and, if you like it, I will say $50. Will you please write me upon this point? — by return of mail, if possible.

Yours very truly,

Edgar A Poe

George Roberts Esqr

Compare this letter with Letter 137, in which the tale is offered for $40. Also, Poe seems to have written a similar letter (unlocated) to the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger (then edited by T. W. White and Matthew F. Maury; see Publications of the Modern Language Association, LVI (March 1941), 233, n.). For publication of the new tale, see the note to Letter 137. Roberts’ Notion was one of the mammoth papers of the day, which included the Brother Jonathan, NewYorker, New World, and Dollar Magazine, edited by such men as Park Benjamin, Rufus W. Griswold, Horace Greeley, and L. Fitzgerald Tasistro. [CL 368] [page 201:]

137 ⇒ TO JOSEPH EVANS SNODGRASS [June 4, 1842] [CL 369]

Philadelphia — June 4. 1842

My Dear Snodgrass,

How does it happen that, in these latter days, I never receive an epistle from yourself? Have I offended you by any of my evil deeds? — if so, how? Time was when you could spare a few minutes occas<s>ionally for communion with a friend.

I see with pleasure that you have become sole proprietor of the “Visiter”; and this reminds me that I have to thank your partiality for many flattering notices of myself. How is it, nevertheless, that a Magazine of the highest class has never yet succeeded in Baltimore? I have often thought, of late, how much better it would have been had you joined me in a Magazine project in the Monumental City, rather than engage with the “Visiter” — a journal which has never yet been able to recover from the mauvais odeur imparted to it by Hewitt. Notwithstanding the many failures in Baltimore, I still am firmly convinced that <B> your city is the best adapted for such a Magazine as I propose, of any in the Union. Have you ever thought seriously upon this subject.

I have a proposition to make. You may remember a tale of mine published about a year ago in “Graham” and entitled the “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. Its theme was the exercise of ingenuity in detecting a murderer. I am just now putting the concluding touch to a similar article, which I shall entitle “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt — a Sequel to ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’.” The story is based upon that of the real murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, which created so vast an excitement, some months ago, in New-York. I have handled the design in a very singular and [page 2] entirely novel manner. I imagine a series of nearly exact coincidences occurring in Paris. A young grisette, one Marie Rogêt, has been murdered under precisely similar circumstances with Mary Rogers. Thus under pretence of showing how Dupin (the hero of the Rue Morgue) unravelled the mystery of Marie’s assassination, I, in fact, enter into a very rigorous analysis of the real tragedy in New-York. No point is omitted. I examine<d>, each by each, the opinions and arguments of our press on the subject, and show (I think satisfactorily) that this subject has never yet been approached. The press has been entirely on a [page 202:] wrong scent. In fact, I really believe, not only that I have demonstrated the falsity of the idea that the girl was <not> the victim of a gang <as supposed>, but have indicated the assassin. My main object, however, as you will readily understand, is the analysis of the principles of investigation in cases of like character. Dupin reasons the matter throughout.

The article, I feel convinced, will be one of general interest, from the nature of its subject. For reasons which I may mention to you hereafter, I am desirous of publishing it in Baltimore, and there would be no channel so proper as the paper under your control. Now the tale is a long one — it would occupy twenty-five pages of Graham’s Magazine — and is worth to me a hundred dollars at the usual Magazine price. Of course I could not afford to make you an absolute present of it — but if you are willing to take it, I will say $40. Shall I hear from you on this head — if possible by return of mail?

Have you seen Griswold’s Book of Poetry? It is a most outrageous humbug, and I sincerely wish [page 3] you would “use it up”.

If you have not yet noticed my withdrawal from Graham’s Magazine, I would take it as a great favor if you would do so in something like the following terms. Even if you have noticed it, this might go in.

We have it from undoubted authority that Mr Poe has retired from the editorship of “Graham’s Magazine”, and that his withdrawal took place with the May number, notwithstanding the omission of all announcement to this effect in the number for June. We observe that the “Boston Post”, in finding just fault with an exceedingly ignorant and flippant review of “Zanoni” which appears in the June number, has spoken of it as from the pen of Mr Poe[.] We will take it upon ourselves to say that Mr P. neither did write the article, nor could have written any such absurdity. The slightest glance would suffice to convince us of this. Mr P. would never be guilty of the grammatical blunders, to say nothing of the mere twattle, which disgrace the criticism. When did <Mr P.> he ever spell liaison, liason, for example, or make use of so absurd a phrase as “attained to” in place of attained? We are also fully confident that the criticism in question is not the work of Mr Griswold, who (, whatever may be his abilities as the compiler of a Book of Poetry,) is at all events a decent writer of English. The article appears to be the handiwork of some underling who has become imbued with th[e] fancy of aping <some of > Mr Poe’s peculiarities [page 203:] of diction. A pretty mess he has made of it! Not to announce Mr P’s withdrawal in the [page 4] June number, was an act of the rankest injustice; and as such we denounce it. A man of talent may occasionally submit to the appropriation of his articles by others who insinuate a claim to the authorship, but it is a far different and vastly more disagreeable affair <matter> when he finds <th> himself called upon to father the conceit, ignorance and flippant impertinence of an ass.

Put this in editorially, <ny> my dear S., and oblige me eternally. You will acknowledge that it will be an act of justice. [space reserved for mailing address]

Write immediately and believe me[,]

Your friend.

Edgar A Poe

If you put in th[e] paragraph send me the no; of the Visiter.

Poe’s hint that Snodgrass join him in publishing the dream magazine fell on barren ground. John H. Hewitt had won the poetry prize offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, in 1833, at the same time Poe won the prose premium; Wilmer, then editor, was subsequently replaced by Hewitt, who gained the favor of McCloud, the owner (see Wilmer, Our Press Gang, pp. 22-29). “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” appeared in Graham’s, April 1841. Poe also offered “The Mystery of Marie Roget” to George Roberts, editor of the Boston Times and Notion, in a letter of the same date (Letter 136); neither editor took the story, and it was published in Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion, November, December 1842, and February 1843 (Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, p. 332). On April 18, 1842, Carey and Hart announced the publication of Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America, and for Poe’s attitude toward it, see the note to Letter 143. Apparently Poe withdrew from Graham’s during the first part of April, since the magazine appeared in advance of date. Graham wrote to Griswold, April 20, asking if he intended to give up all editorial work, and if not to state whether he would consider coming to Philadelphia. On May 3 Graham wrote Griswold, confirming his appointment as editor of Graham’s, at $1000 a year. Griswold must have accepted and gone to Philadelphia within a few days, for on May 16 Greeley wrote him to return to New York and work four days for him (see Passages in the Correspondence of R. W. Griswold, ed. W. M. Griswold, pp. 106-107). This is the last known letter in the correspondence between Poe and Snodgrass. [CL 369] [page 204:]

138 ⇒ TO JAMES HERRON [June 30, 1842] [CL 376]

Philadelphia, June 30. 1842.

My Dear Mr Herron.

Upon return from a brief visit to New-York, last night, I found here your kind letter from Washington, enclosing a check for $20, and giving me new life in every way. I am more deeply indebted to you than I can express, and in this I really mean what I say. Without your prompt and unexpected interposition with Mr Tyler, it is by no means improbable that I should have failed in obtaining the appointment which has <now> become so vitally necessary to me; but now I feel assured of success. The $20, also, will enable me to overcome other difficulties — and, I repeat, that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have shown yourself a true friend.

My wife’s health has slightly improved and my spirits have risen in proportion; but I am still very unwell — so much so that I shall be forced to give up and go to bed.

Your own brilliant prospects must be realized; for it is not Fate which makes such men as yourself. You make your own Fate. There is such a thing as compelling Fortune, however reluctant or averse. As regards myself — I will probably succeed too. So let us both keep a good heart.

Wishing you the high success which you deserve,

I am your sincere friend,

Edgar A Poe

Jas. Herron Esqre

In connection with this letter, see Letter 135 and note. The letter just cited and the present one, with the two from Herron, are the only known items in the Poe-Herron correspondence. [CL 376]

139 ⇒ TO DANIEL BRYAN [July 6, 1842] [CL 377]

Philadelphia, July 6. 1842.

My Dear Sir,

Upon my return from a brief visit to New-York, a day or two since, I found your kind and welcome letter of June 27.

What you say in respect to “verses” enclosed to myself has occasioned me some surprise. I have certainly received none. My connexion [page 205:] with “Graham’s Magazine” ceased with the May number, which was completed by the 1rst of April — since which period the editorial conduct of the journal has rested with Mr Griswold. You observe that the poem was sent about three weeks since. Can it be possible that the present editors have thought it proper to open letters addressed to myself, because addressed to myself as “Editor of Graham’s Magazine”? I know not how to escape from this conclusion; and now distinctly remember that, although in the habit of receiving many letters daily, before quitting the office, I have not received more than a half dozen during the whole period since elapsed; and none of those received were addressed to me as “Editor of G’s Magazine”. What to say or do in a case like this I really do not know. I have no quarrel with either Mr Graham or Mr Griswold — although I hold neither in especial respect. I have much aversion to communicate with them in any way, and, perhaps, it would be best that you should address them yourself, demanding the MS.

Many thanks for your kind wishes. I hope the time is not far distant when they may be realized. I am making earnest although secret exertions to resume my project of the “Penn Magazine”, and have every confidence that I shall succeed in issuing the first number on the first of January. [page 2] You may remember that it was my original design to issue it on the first of January 1841. I was induced to abandon the project at that period by the representations of Mr Graham. He said that if I would join him as a salaried editor, giving up, for the time, my own scheme, he himself would unite with me at the expiration of 6 months, or certainly at the end of a year. As Mr G. was a man of capital and I had no money, I thought it most prudent to fall in with his views. The result has proved his want of faith and my own folly. In fact, I was continually laboring against myself. Every exertion made by myself for the benefit of “Graham”, by rendering that Mag: a greater source of profit, rendered its owner, at the same time, less willing to keep his word with me. At the time of our bargain (a verbal one) he had 6000 subscribers — when I left him he had more than 40,000. It is no wonder that he has been tempted to leave me in the lurch.

I had nearly 1000 subscribers with which to have started the “Penn”, and, with these as a beginning, it would have been my own fault had I failed. There may be still 3 or 4 hundred who will stand by me, of the old list, and, in the interval between this period and [page 206:] the first of January, I will use every endeavor to procure others. You are aware that, in my circumstances, a single name, in advance, is worth ten after the issue of the book; for it is upon my list of subscribers that I must depend for the bargain to be made with a partner possessing capital, or with a publisher. If, therefore, you can aid me in Alexandria, with even a single name, I shall feel deeply indebted to your friendship.

I feel that now is the time to strike. The delay, after all, will do me no injury. My conduct of “Graham” has rendered me better and (I hope) more favorably known than [page 3] before. I am anxious, above all things, to render the journal one in which the true, in contradistinction from the merely factitious, genius of the country shall be represented. I shall yield nothing to great names — nor to the circumstances of position. I shall make war to the knife against the New-England assumption of “all the decency and all the talent” which has been so disgustingly manifested in the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold’s “Poets & Poetry of America”. But I am boring you with my egotism.

May I hope to hear from you in reply?

I am with sincere respect & esteem,

Yr Obt Sert

Edgar A Poe.

Danl Bryan Esqre

P.S. I have not seen the “attack” to which you have [re-]ference. Could it have been in a Philadelphia paper[?]

Daniel Bryan was postmaster at Alexandria, Virginia (see “Autography” for December 1841, reprinted in H, XV, 218). He wrote at least six letters to Poe (the three in addition to those given in the bibliographical section are: July 1 r and 26, and August 4, 1842, original MSS. being in the Boston Public Library; no Bryan to Poe letter has been published). Poe wrote to Bryan on July 6 and apparently again between July 27 and August 3, for Bryan’s letter of August 4 speaks of following Poe’s suggestion that Bryan get his critique of Griswold’s Poets and Poetry o f America published through the aid of F. W. Thomas or Jesse E. Dow; no known letter by Poe, in MS. or print, gives this information. The whole correspondence, containing at least eight letters, seems to have lasted a little less than three months. Bryan on May 13, 1842, sent a poem, “The Crowning of the May Queen,” for Graham’s; he also spoke of not knowing Edgar Poe personally, but of having known Poe’s “lamented Brother.” The “verses” [page 207:] sent to Poe “three weeks since” seem to have been another poem (see reference to Bryan’s letter of June 27, above). Though 40,000 was probably high for Graham’s list, the figure was advertised in the magazine for March 1842 (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 552). [CL 377]

140 ⇒ TO DR. THOMAS H. CHIVERS [July 6, 1842] [CL 378]

Philadelphia, July 6, 1842.

My Dear Sir:

I fear you will have accused me of disrespect in not replying to either of your three last letters; but, if so, you will have wronged me. Among all my correspondents there is not one whose good opinion I am more anxious to retain than your own. A world of perplexing business has led me to postpone from day to day a duty which it is always a pleasure to perform.

Your two last letters I have now before me. In the first you spoke of my notice of yourself in the autograph article. The paper had scarcely gone to press before I saw and acknowledged to myself the injustice I had done you-an injustice which it is my full purpose to repair at the first opportunity. What I said of your grammatical errors arose from some imperfect recollections of one or two poems sent to the first volume of the Southern Literary Messenger. But in more important respects I now deeply feel that I have wronged you by a hasty opinion. You will not suppose me insincere in saying that I look upon some of your late pieces as the finest I have ever read. I allude especially to your poem about Shelley, and the one of which the refrain is, “She came from Heaven to tell me she was blest.” Upon reading these compositions I felt the necessity of our being friends. Will you accept my proffer of friendship?

Your last favor is dated June 11, and, in writing it, you were doubtless unaware of my having resigned the editorial charge of Graham’s Magazine. What disposition shall I make of the “Invocation to Spring?” The other pieces are in the hands of my successor, Mr. Griswold.

It is my intention now to resume the project of the Penn Magazine. I had made every preparation for the issue of the first number in January, 1841, but relinquished the design at Mr. Graham’s representation of joining me in July, provided I would edit his magazine [page 208:] in the meantime. In July he put me off until January, and in January until July again. He now finally declines, and I am resolved to push forward for myself. I believe I have many warm friends, especially in the South and West, and were the journal fairly before the public I have no doubt of ultimate success. Is it possible that you could afford me any aid, in the way of subscribers, among your friends in Middletown?

As I have no money myself, it will be absolutely necessary that I procure a partner who has some pecuniary means. I mention this to you, for it is not impossible that you yourself may have both the will and the ability to join me. The first number will not appear until January, so that I shall have time to look about me.

With sincere respect and esteem, yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

At the time of his correspondence with Poe, Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers lived at Oaky Grove, Georgia, but made frequent visits in the North. Though he graduated in medicine, he professed himself a poet and gained a modicum of distinction; his last volume of verse, The Lost Pleiad (1845), was called “monotonous” by the Charleston (South Carolina) Southern Patriot, which, in general, damned the book with faint praise (August 7, 1845, p. 2, col. 2). He often charged that Poe borrowed ideas and metrical effects from his poetry. At one time, Chivers encouraged Poe to settle in the South, even to come and live with him in Washington, Georgia, where he went from Oaky Grove. When Poe died, he planned to write a life of his “hero,” but the work was never completed (for fuller account of Dr. Chivers, see W, II, 376-390). The Poe-Chivers correspondence numbers at least 36 letters, 10 of which are by Poe; only 8 of Poe’s and 11 of Chivers’ are extant.

This is the earliest Poe to Chivers letter extant. Chivers’ letter of August 27, 1840, says, “I received your letter this evening ... ” This, Poe’s first known letter to Chivers, contained a prospectus of the Penn, in fact, was probably written on the verso (see other Poe letters in August 1840). Though no definite date for the first letter is possible, it was probably about August 2o, the prospectus sent being the revision of the June one. On the envelope of the present letter, addressed to Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, Middletown, Connecticut, was the following note, according to James Grant Wilson: “The ‘grammatical errors’ to which Poe alludes here is the want of s in a verse in the poem entitled ‘Song to Isa Singing,’ as follows: ‘The song which none can know,’ etc. Song ought to have been written songs, evidently a mistake in copying. The poem was published in the Broadway Journal. In the original it’s ‘Sweet songs.’ “ Chivers was an early devotee of [page 209:] Shelley; as Woodberry (n, 381) put it, “Chivers was one of the first of Americans to be ‘Shelley-mad.’ “ Poe left Graham’s in April 1842. Chivers seems to have got four subscribers among his Middletown friends (see Letter 145). [CL 378]

141 ⇒ TO ELIZABETH R. TUTT [July 7, 1842] [CL 379]

[Philadelphia] July 7, 1842

... My dear little wife grew much better from the very first day after taking the Jew’s Beer. It seemed to have the most instantaneous and miraculous effect...  . About ten days ago, however, I was obliged to go on to New York on business ... she began to fret ... because she did not hear from me twice a day...  . What it is to be pestered with a wife! ... I have resigned the editorship of “Graham’s Magazine” ...  .

[No signature]

Mrs. Elizabeth Rebecca Tutt, wife of Andrew Turner Tutt, was Poe’s cousin, the former Elizabeth Rebecca Herring, of Baltimore (see Campbell, Poems, p. 297). She apparently continued to aid the Poe family until Virginia’s death, for a letter from Mrs. Clemm (February, 1847 (?), in the Ingram collection, University of Virginia) thanks “you for your timely aid my dear Mrs. T ... Eddie has quite set his heart upon the wine going back to you ... for the sick artist you mentioned.” To Virginia, says Mrs. Clemm, “the wine was a great blessing while she needed it ... We look for you on a train earlier tomorrow ... Mr. C. [H. D. Chapin (?) ] will tell you of our condition, as he is going to call for this note in an hours time.” Mrs. Tutt seems to have been living in New York at the time of Mrs. Clemm’s letter; but when Poe wrote the above letter, according to the catalogue, she was living in Woodville, Rappahannock County, Virginia. For Poe’s visit to New York, see Letter 138. The present letter suggests lost letters from Poe to Virginia Poe. For Virginia’s illness, see Letters 132 and 135, and notes. [CL 379]

142 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [August 27, 1842] [CL 386]

Philadelphia, August 27, ‘42.

My Dear Thomas,

How happens it that I have received not a line from you for these four months? What in the world is the matter? I write to see if you are still in the land of the living, or have gone your way to the “land o’ the leal.” [page 210:]

I wrote a few words to you, about two months since, from New York, at the importunate demand of W. Wallace, in which you were requested to use your influence, &c. He overlooked me while I wrote, & therefore I could not speak of private matters. I presume you gave the point as much consideration as it demanded, & no more.

What have you been doing for so long a time? I am anxious to learn how you succeed in Washington. I suppose Congress will have adjourned by the time you get this. Since I heard from you I have had a reiteration of the promise, about the Custom-House appointment, from Rob Tyler. A friend of mine, Mr. Jas. Herron, having heard from me casually, that I had some hope of an appointment, called upon R. T., who assured him that I should certainly have it & desired him so to inform me. I have, also, paid my respects to Gen. J. W. Tyson, the leader of the T. party in the city, who seems especially well disposed — but, notwithstanding all this, I have my doubts. A few days will end them. If I do not get the office, I am just where I started. Nothing more can be done to secure it than has been already done. Literature is at a sad discount. There is really nothing to be done in this way. Without an international copyright law, American authors may as well cut their throats. A good magazine, of the true stamp, would do wonders in the way of a general revivification of letters, or the law. We must have — both if possible.

What has become of Dow? Do you ever see him? Write immediately & tell me the Washington news.

My poor little wife still continues ill. I have scarcely a faint hope of her recovery.

Remember us all to your friends & believe me your true friend,

Edgar A. Poe.

F. W. Thomas, Esq.

William Ross Wallace was a New York poet. For Poe’s “casual” remark to Herron, see Letter 135, and for Herron’s interview with Robert Tyler, see Letter 138. Jesse E. Dow is frequently mentioned in the PoeThomas correspondence. For the beginning of Virginia’s illness, in January, see Letter 132. [CL 386]

143 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [September 12, 1842] [CL 388]

Philadelphia, Sep. 12 1842

My Dear Thomas,

I did not receive yours of the 2d until yesterday — why God only knows, as I either went or sent every-day to the P, Office. Neither [page 211:] have I seen Mr Beard, who, I presume, had some difficulty in finding my residence: since you were here I have moved out in the neighbor hood of Fairmount. I have often heard of Beard, from friends who knew him personally, and should have been glad to make his acquaintance.

A thousand sincere thanks for your kind offices in the matter of the appointment. So far, nothing has been done here in the way of reform. Thos. S. Smith is to have the Collectorship, but it appears has not yet received his commission — a fact which occasions much surprise among the quid-nuncs.

Should I obtain the office — and of course I can no longer doubt that I shall obtain it — I shall feel that to you alone I am indebted. You have shown yourself a true friend, and I am not likely to forget it, however impotent I may be, now or hereafter, to reciprocate your many kindnesses. I would give the world to clasp you by the hand & assure you, personally, of my gratitude. I hope it will not be long before we meet.

In the event of getting the place, I am undetermined what literary course to pursue. Much will depend upon the salary.

Graham has made me a good offer to return. He is not [page 2] especially pleased with Griswold — nor is any one else, with the exception of the Rev. gentleman himself, who has gotten himself into quite a hornet’s nest, by his “Poets & Poetry”. It appears you gave him personal offence by delay in replying to his demand for information touching Mrs Welby, I believe, or somebody else. Hence his omission of you in the body of the book; for he had prepared quite a long article from my MS. and had selected several pages for quotation. He is a pretty fellow to set himself up as an honest judge, or even as a capable one. — About two months since, we were talking about the book, when I said that I had thought of reviewing it in full for the “Democratic Review”, but found my design anticipated by an article from that ass O’Sullivan, and that I knew no other work in which a notice would be readily admissible. Griswold said, in reply — “You need not trouble yourself about the publication of the review, should you decide upon writing it; for I will attend to all that. I will get it in some reputable work, and look to it for the usual pay; in the meantime handing you whatever your charge would be”. This, you see, was an ingenious insinuation of a bribe to puff his book. I accepted his offer forthwith, wrote the review, handed it to him and received from him the compensation: — he never daring [page 212:] to look over the M.S. in my presence, and taking it for granted that all was right. But that review has not yet appeared, and I am doubtful if it ever will. I wrote it precisely as I would have written under ordinary circumstances; and be sure there was no predominance of praise.

Should I go back to Graham I will endeavor to bring about [page 3] some improvements in the general appearance of the Magazine, & above all, to get rid of the quackery which now infects it.

If I do not get the appt I should not be surprised if I joined Foster in the establishment of a Mag: in New-York. He has made me an offer to join him. I suppose you know that he now edits the “Aurora”.

Touching your poem. Should you publish it, Boston offers the best facilities — but I feel sure that you will get no publisher to print it, except on your own account. Reason — Copy-Right Laws. However, were I in your place, and could contrive it in any way, I would print it at my own expense — of course without reference to emolument, which is not to be hoped. It would make only a small volume, & the cost of publishing it even in such style as Hoffman’s last poems, could not be much, absolutely. It should be handsomely printed or not at all.

When is Rob. Tyler to issue his promised poem?

Have you seen how Benjamin & Tasistro have been playing Kilkenny cats with each other? I have always told Graham that Tasistro stole every thing, worth reading, which he offered for sale.

What is it about Ingraham? He has done for himself, in the opinion of all honest men, by his chicaneries.

I am happy to say that Virginia’s health has slightly improved. My spirits are proportionately good. Perhaps all will yet go well. Write soon & believe me ever your true friend

Edgar A Poe

For Poe’s change of residence, see Quinn, Poe, pp. 273-274, Thomas visited Philadelphia and Poe during the week in which the present letter was written (see Thomas’ endorsement in Note 143 and Letter 144). Rufus W. Griswold succeeded Poe as an editor of Graham’s. For the Poe MS., based on Thomas’ autobiographical notes, designed for Griswold’s use in Poets and Poetry of America, see Letter 124 and note. Poe’s review of Griswold’s second edition of the Poets and Poetry of America (1842) was printed in the Boston Miscellany, II (November 1842), 218-221; on the whole it was a very favorable review, containing [page 213:] such a passage as: “We know of no one in America who could, or who would, have performed the task here, undertaken, at once so well in accordance with the judgment of the critical, and so much to the satisfaction of the public ... We are proud to find [in general] his decisions our own [as to critical estimates].” Still, Poe objected to certain of Griswold’s evaluations and omissions (see H, XI, 147-156, for reprint of the article). Griswold, it seems, paid Poe for the review in advance, promised the article to Bradbury and Soden, publishers of the Miscellany, then found himself committed to send it on when Poe completed it. (A passage from Griswold’s letter to James T. Fields, August 12, 1842, supplied by Thomas O. Mabbott, reads: “I have sent today the article by Poe about my book to Bradbury & Soden for the magazine, with a request that if it be not acceptable they will return it to you. I thought it likely the name of Poe — gratuitously furnished — might be of some consequence, though I care not a fig about the publication of the criticism as the author and myself not being on the best terms, it is not decidedly as favorable as it might have been. Will you see to it though”; original MS. in Harvard College Library.) There is, therefore, a possibility that Poe’s adverse comments were “edited” in part. Thus Poe writing a rather fair review accepted Griswold’s money but knew that the notice would not please him fully and that the review would probably not find publication. The name of Poe and the gratuitous article may account for the printing, even against Griswold’s hope that the review would be suppressed. Poe probably refers to George G. Foster, later editor of Yankee Doodle and John-Donkey, but nothing came of the offer here alluded to. Thomas’ poem was probably The Beechen Tree, finally published in the fall of 1844. Park Benjamin, at this time, was an editor of the New World, and Count L. Fitzgerald Tasistro, a contributor to periodicals of the day. For other comments on Joseph H. Ingraham, see Letter 117, and “Autography,” Graham’s, November 1841 (reprinted in H, XV, 188). [CL 388]

144 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [September 21, 1842] [CL 391]

Philadelphia, Sep. [21] 1842.

My Dear Thomas,

I am afraid you will think that I keep my promises but indifferently well, since I failed to make my appearance at Congress Hall on Sunday, and I now, therefore, write to apologise. The will to be with you was not wanting — but, upon reaching home on Saturday night, I was taken with a severe chill and fever — the latter keeping me company all next day. I found myself too ill to venture out, but, nevertheless, would have done so had I been able to obtain the consent of [page 214:] all parties. As it was I was quite in a quandary, for we keep no servant and no messenger could be procured in the neighbourhood. I contented myself with the reflection that you would not think it necessary to wait for me very long after 9 o’clock, and that you were not quite as implacable in your resentments as myself. I was much in hope that you would have made your way out in the afternoon. Virginia & Mrs C. were much grieved at not being able to bid you farewell.

I perceive by Du Solle’s paper that you saw him. He announced your presence in the city on Sunday, in very handsome terms.

I am about going on a pilgrimage, this morning [page 2] to hunt up a copy of “Clinton Bradshaw” & will send it to you as soon as procured.

Excuse the brevity of this letter, for I am still very unwell, & believe me most gratefully & sincerely your friend,

Edgar A. Poe

F, W, Thomas. Esqr

Poe’s apology suggests a letter from Thomas announcing his proposed visit to Philadelphia and making an appointment with Poe; but the letter is unlocated and otherwise unknown. Du Solle’s “paper” was the Spirit of the Times. Clinton Bradshaw (1835) was Thomas’ first novel. [CL 391]

145 ⇒ TO DR. THOMAS H. CHIVERS [September 27, 1842]

Philadelphia Sep. 27. 1842.

My Dear Sir,

Through some accident, I did not receive your letter of the 15th inst: until this morning, and now hasten to reply.

Allow me, in the first place, to thank you sincerely for your kindness in procuring me the subscribers to the Penn Magazine. The four names sent will aid me most materially in this early stage of the proceedings.

As yet I have taken no overt step in the measure, and have not even printed a Prospectus. As soon as I do this I will send you several. I do not wish to announce my positive resumption of the original scheme until about the middle of October. Before that period I have reason to believe that I shall have received an appointment in the Philadelphia Custom House, which will afford me a good salary [page 215:] and leave the greater portion of my time unemployed. With this appointment to fall back upon, as a certain resource, I shall be enabled to start the Magazine without difficulty, provided I can make an arrangement with either a practical printer possessing a small office, or some one not a printer, with about $1000 at command. (over[)]

[page 2] It would, of course, be better for the permanent influence and success of the journal that I unite myself with a gentleman of education & similarity of thought and feeling. It was this consciousness which induced me to suggest the enterprise to yourself. I know no one with whom I would more readily enter into association than yourself.

I am not aware what are your political views. My own have reference to no one of the present parties; but it has been hinted to me that I will receive the most effectual patronage from Government, for a journal which will admit occasional papers in support of the Administration. For Mr Tyler personally, & as an honest statesman, I have the highest respect. Of the government patronage, upon the condition specified, I am assured and this alone will more than sustain the Magazine.

The only real difficulty lies in the beginning — in the pecuniary means for getting out the two (or three) first numbers; after this all is sure, and a great triumph may, and indeed will be achieved. If you can command about $1000 and say that you will join me, I will write you fully as respects the details of the plan, or we can have an immediate interview.

It would be proper to start with an edition of 1000 copies. For this number, the monthly expense, including paper (of the finest quality) composition, press-work & stitching will be about 180$. I calculate all expenses at about $250 — which is $3000 per annum — a very [page 3] liberal estimate. 1000 copies at $5 = 5000$ — leaving a nett profit of 2000$, even supposing we have only 1000 subscribers. But I am sure of beginning with at least 500, and make no doubt of obtaining 5000 before the expiration of the 2d year. A Magazine, such as I propose, with 1000 subscribers will produce us each an income of some $10,000; and this you will acknowledge is a game worth playing. At the same time there is no earthly reason why such a Magazine may not, eventually, reach a circulation as great as that of “Graham’s” at present — viz 50,000.

I repeat that it would give me the most sincere pleasure if you would [page 216:] make up your mind to join me. I am sure of our community of thought & feeling, and that we would accomplish much.

In regard to the poem on Harrison’s death, I regret to [say] that nothing can be done with the Philadelphia publishers. The truth is that the higher order of poetry is, and always will be, in this country, unsaleable; but, even were it otherwise, the present state of the Copy-Right Laws will not warrant any publisher, in purchasing an American book. The only condition, I am afraid, upon which the poem can be printed, is that you print at your own expense.

I will see Griswold and endeavour to get the smaller poems from him. A precious fellow is he!

Write as soon as you receive this & believe me

Yours most truly

Edgar A Poe

Chivers’ autograph notes at the end of the letter show that “the poem on Harrison’s death” referred to his “The Mighty Dead”; and regarding the poems held by Griswold, Chivers noted: “Alluding to his not having returned the poem, -although requested so often — which he never did.” In Chivers’ letter of July 12, 1842 (H, XVII, 115-117), Chivers said he would try to get subscribers to the Penn, promised to send on his poem “The Mighty Dead,” and asked Poe to hand Graham the “Invocation to Spring,” the poem that Griswold failed to return. Poe failed to get the appointment to the Custom House. Though nothing ever came of Poe’s suggestion that Chivers join him in publishing a magazine, Chivers wrote Poe, June 15, 1844, that upon coming into his inheritance he would like to become Poe’s partner. [CL 394]

146 ⇒ TO JOHN TOMLIN[?] [October 5, 1842] [CL 396]

Philadelphia, Oct. 5, 1842.

My Dear Sir, —

I have just received your kind letter of the 21st ult., and hasten to reply.

It is my firm determination to commence the “Penn Magazine” on the first of January next. The difficulties which impeded me last year have vanished, and there will be now nothing to prevent success.

I am to receive an office in the Custom House in this city, which will leave me the greater portion of my time unemployed, while, at the same time, it will afford me a good salary. With this to fall back upon as a certain resource until the Magazine is fairly afloat, all must [page 217:] go well. After the elections here (2d Tuesday in this month,) I will issue my new prospectuses and set to work in good earnest. As soon as printed, I will send you some. In the meantime, may I ask you to do what you can for me? Every new name, in the beginning of the enterprise, is worth five afterwards. My list of subscribers is getting to be quite respectable, although, as yet, I have positively taken no overt steps to procure names.

It is my firm intention to get up such a journal as this country, at least, has never yet seen.

Truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

In connection with this letter, referring to Poe’s expectation of the customs house appointment, see Letter 148. [CL 396]

147 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [November 16, 1842] [CL: 398]

Dr Sir,

Learning your design of commencing a Magazine, in Boston, upon the first of January next, I take the liberty of asking whether some arrangement might not be made, by which I should become a regular contributor.

I should be glad to furnish a short article each month — of such character as might be suggested by yourself — and upon such terms as you could afford “in the beginning”.

That your success will be marked and permanent I will not doubt. At all events, I most sincerely wish you well; for no man in America has excited in me so much of admiration — and, therefore, none so much of respect and esteem — as the author of “Rosaline”.

May I hope to hear from you at your leisure? In the meantime, believe me,

Most Cordially yours

Edgar Allan Poe

James Russell Lowell Esqre

Philadelphia Novem: 16. 1842.

Lowell and Robert Carter were about to publish the Pioneer. It was launched with great hopes and commendable standards, but lived for only three numbers, and when it died left Lowell heavily in debt. Poe contributed to each number (see subsequent letters). [CL 398] [page 218:]

148 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [November 19, 1842] [CL 399]

Philadelphia Nov. 19. 42

My Dear Friend

Your letter of the 14th gave me new hope -only to be dashed to the ground. On the day of its receipt some of the papers announced four removals and appointments. Among the latter I observed the name — Pogue. Upon inquiry among those behind the curtain, I soon found that no such person as — Pogue has any expectation of an appt and that the name was a misprint or rather a misunderstanding of the reporters, who had heard my own name spoken of at the Custom-House. I waited 2 days, without calling on Mr Smith, as he had twice told me that “he would send for me, when he wished to swear me in.” To-day, however, hearing nothing from him, I called. I asked him if he had no good news for me yet. He replied — “No, I am instructed to make no more removals.” At this, being much astonished, I mentioned that I had heard, through a friend, from Mr. Rob. Tyler, that he was requested to appoint me. At these words he said [page 2] roughly,-“From whom did you say?” I replied from M’ Robert Tyler. I wish you could have seen the scoundrelfor scoundrel, my dear Thomas in your private ear, he is — “From Robert Tyler!” says he — “hem! I have received orders from President Tyler to make no more appts and shall make none.” Immediately afterward, he acknowledged that he had made one appt since these instructions.

Mr. Smith has excited the thorough disgust of every Tyler man here. He is a Whig of the worst stamp and will appoint none but Whigs if he can possibly avoid it. People here laugh at the idea of his being a Tyler man. He is notoriously not such[.]

As for me, he has trialed me most shamefully. In my case, there was no need of any political shuffling or lying. I proffered my willingness to postpone my claims to those of political claimants, but he told me, upon my first interview after the Election, that if I would call on the fourth day he would swear me in. I called & he was not at home. On the next day I called again & saw him, when he told me that he would send a Messenger for me when ready; — this [page 3] without even inquiring my place of residence — showing that he had, from the first, no design of appointing me. Well, I waited nearly a [page 219:] month, when, finding nearly all the appts made, I again called. He did not even ask me to be seated — scarcely spoke — muttered the words “I will send for you Mr Poe” — and that was all. My next and last interview was to-day — as I have just described.

The whole manner of the man, from the first, convinced me that he would not appoint me if he could help it. Hence the uneasiness I expressed to you when here.

Now, my dear Thomas, this insult is not to me, so much as to your friend Mr. Robert Tyler, who was so kind as to promise, and who requested my appointment.

It seems to me that the only way to serve me now, is to lay the matter once again before Mr. T. and, if possible through him, to procure a few lines from the President, directing Mr. Smith to give me the place. With these credentials he would scarcely again refuse — But I leave all to your better judgment[.]

You can have no idea of the low ruffians and boobies — men, two, without a shadow of political [page 4] influence or caste — who have received office over my head. If Smith had the feelings of a gentleman, he would have perceived that from the very character of my claim — by which I mean my want of claim — he should have made my appt. an early one. It was a gratuitous favor intended me by Mr Rob Tyler — and he (Smith) has done his best to deprive this favor of all its grace, by delay[.] I could have forgiven all but the innumerable and altogether unnecessary falsehoods with which he insulted my common sense day after day —

I would write more, my dear Thomas, but my heart is too heavy. You have felt the misery of hope deferred & will feel for me.

Believe me ever your true friend

Edgar A Poe

Write soon & if possible relieve my suspense. You cannot imagine the trouble I am in, & have been in for the past 2 months — unable to enter into any literary arrangements — or in fact to do anything — being in hourly expectation of getting the place —

There is no extant proof that Thomas acted in Poe’s behalf, upon receipt of this letter, but Thomas’ letter of February 1, 1843 (see H, XVII, 128-129) implies that he did. No Thomas letter replying to the present one is known; however, it is very likely that he did write. [CL 399] [page 220:]

149 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [December 25, 1842] [CL 407]

[Philadelphia, December 25, 1842]

My Dear Friend

I send you a brief poem for No 2, with my very best wishes.

I duly received yours of the 19th and thank you for reversing the judgment of Mr Tuckerman — the author of the “Spirit of Poesy” — which, by the way, is somewhat of a misnomer — since no spirit appears.

Touching the “Miscellany” — had I known of Mr T’s accession, I should not have ventured to send an article. Should he, at any time, accept an effusion of mine, I should ask myself what twattle I had been perpetrating, so flat as to come within the scope of his approbation. He writes, through his publishers, — “if Mr Poe would condescend to furnish more quiet articles he would be a most desirable correspondent.” All I have to say is that if Mr T. persists in his quietude, he will put a quietus to the Magazine of which Mess. Bradbury & Soden have been so stupid as to give him control.

I am all anxiety to see your first number. In the meantime, believe me

[Rest of MS. cut off]

Poe sent “Lenore”; it was printed in the Pioneer, February 1843. Henry T. Tuckerman (see “Autography,” Graham’s, December 1841, reprinted in H, XV, 217) succeeded Mrs. Sarah J. Hale as editor of the Boston Miscellany with the number for January 1843 (see the last issue for 1842). Lowell’s getting “The Tell-Tale Heart” presents a problem. Lowell’s letter to Poe, December 17, 1842, says the tale came from Tuckerman and “will appear in my first number.” Apparently Poe sent the tale to Bradbury and Soden, publishers of the Boston Miscellany; Tuckerman, who assumed the editorship with the January number, refused to print it. Poe’s present letter suggests the publishers or Tuckerman wrote to Poe (in an unlocated letter), early in December (the submission of the tale by Poe also suggests a letter to the publishers). The MS. still in the hands of the publishers, Poe probably wrote to them to give it to Lowell (such a letter is also unlocated) ; or if he wrote to Lowell to get the tale from Bradbury and Soden, the letter is unlocated. Thus the history of the tale, at this time, suggests several lost letters. [CL 407] [page 221:]

150 ⇒ TO JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL [December 27, 1842] [CL 408]


My dear Sir,

If not too late, I would be glad to substitute the lines here given, for what I sent you some days since.

Should the long line “To friends above &c” not come conveniently within the breadth of the page, it may be made to commence farther to the left, so as to correspond with “But waft the angel &c”

Most truly yours,

Edgar A Poe

James Russell Lowell Esqre

Dec 27, 42

In his letter of December 25 (?), 1842, Poe had sent Lowell “a brief poem [“Lenore”] for No 2” of the Pioneer, the February issue; the lines here referred to appear in the fourth stanza of the poem at that time. Lowell printed the poem with short lines, spreading it over two pages (see Quinn, Poe, p. 365). [CL 408]

151 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [February 4, 1843] [CL 412]

Philadelphia February 4 1843.

My Dear Mr Lowell,

For some weeks I have been daily proposing to write and congratulate you upon the triumphant debut of the “Pioneer”, but have been prevented by a crowd of more worldly concerns.

Thank you for the compliment in the footnote. Thank you, also, for your attention in forwarding the Magazine.

As far as a $3 Magazine can please me at all, I am delighted with yours. I am especially gratified with what seems to me a certain coincidence of opinion & of taste, between yourself and your humble servant, in the minor arrangements, as well as in the more important details of the journal. For example — the poetry in the same type as the prose — the designs from Flaxman — &c. As regards the contributors our thoughts are one. Do you know that when, some time since, I dreamed of establishing a Magazine of my own, I said [page 222:] to myself — “If I can but succeed in engaging, as permanent contributors, Mr Hawthorne, Mr Neal, and two others, with a certain young poet of Boston, who shall be nameless, I will engage to produce the best journal in Ame- [page 2] rica.” At the same time, while I thought and still think highly of Mr Bryant, Mr Cooper, and others, I said nothing of them.

You have many warm friends in this city — but the reforms you propose require time in their development, and it may be even a year before “The Pioneer” will make due impression among the Quakers. In the meantime, persevere.

I forwarded you, about a fortnight ago I believe, by Harnden’s Express, an article called “Notes upon English Verse”. A thought has struck me, that it may prove too long, or perhaps too dull, for your Magazine — in either case, use no ceremony, but return it in the same mode (thro’ Harnden) and I will, forthwith, send something in its place.

I duly received, from Mr Graham, $10 on your account, for which I am obliged. I would prefer, however, that you would remit directly to myself through the P. Office.

I saw, not long ago, at Graham’s, a poem without the author’s name — but which for many reasons I take to be yours — the chief being that it was very beautiful. Its title I forget — but it slightly veiled a lovely Allegory in which “Religion” was typified, and the whole painted the voyage of some wanderers & mourners in search of some far-off isle. Is it yours?

Truly your friend

E A Poe

The Pioneer, edited by Lowell and Robert Carter, later an editor of Appleton’s journal, appeared in January 1843, and received many commendations from the press. The prospectus read in part; “The object of the Subscribers in establishing the Pioneer, is to furnish the intelligent and reflecting portion of the Reading Public with a rational substitute for the enormous quantity of thrice-diluted trash, in the shape of namby-pamby love tales and sketches, which is monthly poured out to them by many of our popular magazines ... Each number will contain 48 pages, royal octavo, double columns, handsomely printed on fine paper, and will be illustrated with Engravings of the highest character, both on wood and steel. Terms: Three Dollars a year” (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 735-736). “Notes on English [page 223:] Verse” (later the “Rationale of Verse”) was published in the March issue. Lowell, in his letter of November 19, 1842, had promised Poe $10 at first for each article; thus the ten dollars here referred to was in payment for “The Tell-Tale Heart,” printed in the January Pioneer. [CL 412]

152 ⇒ TO ROBERT CARTER [February 16, 1843] [CL 415]

[Philadelphia, February 16, 1843]

My Dear Sir,

I send you the above trifle, in hope that I may be in time for your fourth number.

What you tell me about Mr Lowell’s health, grieves me most sincerely — but we will hope for the best. Diseases of an opthalmic character, are, by no means, so intractable now, as they were a few years ago. When you write, remember me kindly to him.

When you have leisure, it will give me great pleasure to hear from you at all times. With the warmest wishes for your success, I am, dear Sir,

Yrs truly,

Edgar A Poe.

R. Carter Esqr

This is the first of two known letters from Poe to Carter, who with Lowell edited the Pioneer’s three numbers, January-March 1843; the fourth number was not issued. However, Carter is known to have written Poe at least three letters: ante February 16, 1843 (unlocated), June 19, 1843 (MS. unlocated; printed in H, XVII, 146-148), and September 14-October 18, 1843 (unlocated; but see Letter 164). The version of “Eulalie” accompanying the present letter (see Note 152) antedates by more than two years the first printed form in the American Whig Review, July 1845 (see Campbell, Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, pp. 114, 259; also Quinn, Poe, pp. 381-382). [CL 415]

153 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS [February 25, 1843] [CL 418]

Philadelphia, Feb. 25, 1843.

My Dear Thomas,

Herewith I forward a “Saturday Museum” containing a Biography and caricature, both of myself. I am ugly enough God knows, but not quite so bad as that. The biographer is H. W. Hirst, of this city. [page 224:]

I put into his hands your package, as returned, and he has taken the liberty of stating his indebtedness for memoranda to yourself — a slight extension of the truth for which I pray you to excuse him. He is a warm friend of yours by the bye — and a warm friend is a matter of moment at all times <,> but especially in this age of lukewarmness. I have also been guilty of an indiscretion in quoting from a private letter of yours to myself — I could not forego the temptation of letting the world know how well you thought of me.

On the outside of the paper you will see a Prospectus of “The Stylus” — my old “Penn” revived & remodelled under better auspices. I am anxious to hear your opinion of it. I have managed, at last, to secure, I think, the great object — a partner possessing ample capital, and, at the same time, so little self-esteem, as to allow me entire control of the editorial conduct. He gives me, also, a half interest, and is to furnish funds for all the business operations — I agreeing to supply, for the first year, the literary matter. This will puzzle me no little, but I must do my best — write as much as possible myself, under my own name and pseudonyms, and hope for the casual aid of my friends, until the first stage of infancy is surpassed.

The articles of copartnership have been signed & sealed for some weeks, and I should have written you before, informing you of my good luck, but that I was in hope of sending you, at the same time, a specimen-sheet. Some little delay has occurred in getting it out, on account of paper. In the meantime all arrangements are progressing with spirit. We shall make the most magnificent Magazine as regards externals, ever seen. The finest paper, bold type, in single column, and superb wood-engravings (in the manner of the French illustrated [page 2] edition of “Gil Blas” by Gigoux, or “Robinson Crusoe” by Grandville.

There are 3 objects I would give a great deal to accomplish. Of the first I have some hope — but of the 2 last exceedingly little, unless you aid me. In the first place, I wish an article from yourself for my opening number — in the second, one from Mr Rob. Tyler — in the 3d one from Judge Upshur. If I could get all this, I should be madebut I despair. Judge Upshur wrote some things for “The Messenger” during my editorship, and if I could get him interested in the scheme he might, by good management, be induced to give me an article, I care not how brief, or on what subject, with his name. It would be worth to me at least $500, and give me caste at once. I think him [page 225:] <both> as a reasoner, as a speaker, and as a writer, absolutely unsurpassed. I have the very highest opinion of his abilities. There is no man in America from whom I so strongly covet an article. Is it procurable?

In a few weeks, at farthest, I hope to take you by the hand. In the meantime write & let me know how you come on.

About a week since I enclosed an introductory letter to yourself in one to a friend of mine (Professor Wyatt) now in Washington. I presume you have seen him. He is much of a gentleman & I think you will be pleased with him. Virginia & Mrs Clemm beg to be remembered.

Truly your friend,

Edgar A Poe

F. W. Thomas Esqre

P.S. Smith not rejected yet! — Ah, if I could only get the Inspectorship, or something similar, now — how completely it would put me out of all difficulty.

The Saturday Museum of February 25, 1843, carried the biographical sketch of Poe, done by Hirst with the aid of Poe’s own notes formerly sent to Thomas but returned. The prospectus of the Stylus is reprinted in Quinn, Poe, pp. 375-376; the partner was Thomas C. Clarke, and the magazine was to appear July 1, 1843. The articles of partnership were signed January 31, 1843 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 369). Judge Abel Parker Upshur wrote several articles for the SLM, but only one, a review of The Partisan Leader, January 1837 (III, 73-89), unsigned but identified by B. B. Minor (Southern Literary Messenger, p. 63), can be said to have been contributed during Poe’s editorship. For Professor Thomas Wyatt, see Letter 249. Concerning Smith, see Letter 148. [CL 418]

153a ⇒ TO ROBERT CARTER [March 7, 1843] [CL 419a]

Philadelphia March 7,1843.

My Dear Sir,

Could you do me a very great favor? I am obliged to go on to Washington on Saturday morning — this is Tuesday — and am in sad need of means. I believe there is due me from “The Pioneer” $30, and if you could, by any management, send me the amount so as to [page 226:] reach me, here, by that period, I would feel myself under deep obligation. If you cannot spare 30$ I would be exceedingly glad of $20.

Your fourth — or rather your third number, has not yet reached this city — although I see it is out in N. York. I am anxious to get it.

I sincerely hope that Mr Lowell is recovering. When you write remember me kindly.

In great haste.

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

R. Carter Esqre

Apparently Carter did not reply to this letter, but Lowell did though he was unable to send the money due Poe (see Lowell’s letter to Poe, March 24, 1843, in H, XVII, 138-139). In connection with this letter, see Letter 152 and note. For some reason Poe changed his plans and arrived in Washington before Saturday (see Letter 154 and note). [CL 419a]

154 ⇒ TO JOHN KIRK TOWNSEND [March 9, 1843] [CL 420]

Fuller’s Hotel [Washington]

Thursday Morning, March 9, ‘43

Dr. Sir,

I have the honor to inclose two letters and the bearer will deliver a case containing an air gun. In a day or two I will do myself the pleasure of calling,

With High Respect yr. ob. st

Edgar A. Poe.

Poe’s friend, F. W. Thomas, lived at Fuller’s Hotel. Sometime, early in March, Poe went to Washington (see Letter 155 and note). Poe’s friend, Jesse E. Dow, wrote to Thomas C. Clarke, March 12, that Poe had arrived in Washington “a few days ago”; the text of Dow’s letter seems to indicate that Poe was there before March 9, 1843 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 378). Thus the date and place of the letter appear genuine. John Kirk Townsend (1809-1851) was a Philadelphia ornithologist; he was in Washington from 1842-1845 “engaged in securing and mounting birds for the National Museum, with its collections housed in the Patent Office (see the Dictionary of American Biography, XVIII, 618). In 1839 he had written “Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky [page 227:] Mountains”; in Burton’s, January-June 1840, Poe published his “The Journal of Julius Rodman, being an account of the first passage across the Rocky Mountains.” If the letter to Townsend is genuine, it may contain a humorous reference to the earlier work. [CL 420]

155 ⇒ TO THOMAS C. CLARKE [March 11, 1843] [CL 421]

Washington — March 11. 1843.

My Dear Sir,

I write merely to inform you of my will-doing — for, so far, I have done nothing. My friend Thomas, upon whom I depended, is sick. I suppose he will be well in a few days. In the meantime, I shall have to do the best I can. I have not seen the President yet.

My expenses were more than I thought they would be, although I have economised in every respect, and this delay (<Thomas’> being sick) puts me out sadly. However all is going right. I have got the subscriptions of all the Departments — President, [illegible] &c[.] I believe that I am making a sensation which will tend to the benefit of the Magazine.

Day [after] to-morrow I am to lecture.

Rob. Tyler is to give me an article — also Upsher.

Send me $10 by mail, as soon as you get this. I am grieved to ask you <ask you> for money, in this way. — but you will find your account in it — twice over.

Very truely yours

Edgar A Poe.

Thos. C. Clarke Esqre

Poe was in Washington not only to seek a government position, but to solicit subscriptions for the Stylus, scheduled to appear in July 1843 (see Letter 157), with Poe as editor and Clarke as co-publisher (see Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843, p. 3; reprinted in Quinn, Poe, pp. 375-376). On February 8, 1843, F. W. Thomas wrote Poe that illness prevented his presenting Poe to President John Tyler, but sent Poe a letter of introduction to the President’s son, Robert, who already knew of Poe through Thomas and through Poe’s favorable criticism of a poem he had written (see Thomas to Poe, February 26, 1842, original in Boston Public Library; printed in H, XVII, 105-106, under the wrong date. For the February 8, 1843, letter, supra, see Quinn, Poe, p. 377, where the date and location — Boston Public Library — only are given). Poe in a letter to F. W. Thomas, February 25, stated he wanted [page 228:] an article from Thomas, from Robert Tyler, and from Judge Abel Parker Upshur (then Secretary of the Navy) for the first issue of the Stylus. According to Quinn (Poe, p. 378), the lecture was never delivered. [CL 421]

156 ⇒ TO FREDERICK W. THOMAS AND JESSE E. DOW [March 16, 1843] [CL 424]

Philadelphia March 16. 1843.

My Dear Thomas, & Dow

I arrived here, in perfect safety, and sober, about half past four last evening — nothing occurring on the road of any consequence. I shaved and breakfasted in Baltimore and lunched on the Susquehannah, and by the time I got to Phila felt quite decent. Mrs Clemm was expecting me at the car-office. I went immediately home, took a warm bath & supper & then went to Clarke’s. I never saw a man in my life more surprised to see another. He thought by Dow’s epistle that I must not only be dead but buried & would as soon have thought of seeing his great-great-great grandmother. He received me, therefore, very cordially & made light of the matter. I told him what had been agreed upon — that I was a little sick & that Dow, knowing I had been, in times passed, given to spreeing upon an extensive scale, had become unduly alarmed &c &c. — that when I found he had written I thought it best to come home. He said my trip had improved me & that he had never seen me looking so well!!! — and I don’t believe I ever did.

This morning I took medicine, and, as it is a snowy day, will avail myself of the excuse to stay at home — so that by to-morrow I shall be really as well as ever.

Virginia’s health is about the same — but her distress of mind has been even more than I had anticipated. She desires her kindest remembrances to both of you — as also does Mrs C.

[page 2] Clarke, it appears, wrote to Dow, who must have received the letter this morning. Please re-inclose the letter to me, here-so that I may know how to guide myself. — and, Thomas, do write immediately as proposed. If possible, enclose a line from Rob. Tyler — but I fear, under the circumstances, it is not so — I blame no one but myself.

The letter which I looked for & which I wished returned, is not on its way — reason, no money forthcoming — Lowell had not yet [page 229:] sent it — he is ill in N. York of opthalmia. Immediately upon receipt of it, or before, I will forward the money you were both so kind as to lend — which is 8 to Dow — and 3 1/2 to Thomas — What a confounded business I have got myself into, attempting to write a letter to two people at once!

However — this is for Dow. My dear fellow — Thank you a thousand times for your kindness & great forbearance, and don’t say a word about the cloak turned inside out, or other peccadilloes of that nature. Also, express to your wife my deep regret for the vexation I must have occasioned her. Send me, also, if you can the letter to Blythe. Call, also, at the barber’s shop just above Fuller’s and pay for me a levy which I believe I owe. And now God bless you — for a nobler fellow never lived.

And this is for Thomas. My dear friend. Forgive me my petulance & don’t believe I think all I said. Believe me I am very grateful to you for your many attentions & forbearances — and the time will never come when I shall forget either them or you. Remember me most kindly to Dr Lacey — also to the Don, whose mustachios I do admire after all, and who has about the finest figure I ever beheldalso to Dr Frailey. Please express my regret to Mr Fuller for making such a fool of <him> myself in his house, and say to him (if you think it necessary) that I should not have got half so drunk on his excellent Port wine but for the rummy [page 3] coffee with which I was forced to wash it down. I would be glad, too, if you would take an opportunity of saying to Mr Rob. Tyler that if he can look over matters & get me the Inspectorship, I will join the Washingtonians forthwith. I am as serious as a judge — & much so than many. I think it would be a feather in Mr Tyler’s cap to save [fr]om the perils of mint julap — & “Port wines” — a young man of whom all the world thinks so well & who thinks so remarkably well of himself.

And now, my dear friends, good bye & believe me

Most Truly Yours.

Edgar A Poe

Mess Dow & Thomas.

Upon getting here I found numerous letters of subscribers to my Magazine — for which no canvas has yet been made. This was unexpected & cheering. Did you say Dow that Commodore Elliot had desired me to put down his name? Is it so or did I dream it? At all [page 230:] events, when you see him, present my respects & thanks. Thomas, you will remember that Dr Lacey wished me to put him down — but I don’t know his first name — please let me have it.

At the end of page 3 and across the address on the cover, Thomas wrote a long note (see H, xvn, 137-138), which included: “Poor fellow a place had been promised his friends for him, and in that state of suspense ... he presented himself in Washington certainly not in a way to advance his interests. I have seen a great deal of Poe, and it was his excessive, and at times marked sensibility which forced him into his ‘frolics’, rather than any mere marked appetite for drink, but if he took but one glass of week wine or beer or cider the Rubicon of the cup was passed with him, and it almost always ended in excess and sickness. But he fought against the propensity as hard as ever Coleridge fought against it.” Thomas added as a last sentence, “And moreover there is a great deal of heartache in the jestings of this letter.”

In connection with this letter, see Letter 155 and note; see also Jesse E. Dow to Clarke, March 12, 1843 (Quinn, Poe, p. 378). Apparently, Clarke’s letter to Dow was not sent to Poe (see Thomas to Poe, March 27, 1843, in H, XVII, 140-141). The expected letter from James R. Lowell was that of March 24, 1843 (see H, XVII, 138-139), in which he explained why he could not send Poe money that was due him from contributions. Thomas lived at Fuller’s Hotel in Washington. For Dr. Frailey, see Letter 118 and note. None of the “numerous letters” from prospective subscribers to the Stylus is extant. Poe probably reached Washington on or before Wednesday, March 8 (see Letter 154, and Dow’s letter to Clarke, cited above). Neither Dow nor Thomas seems to have supplied Poe with the desired information about Commodore Elliot and Dr. Lacey. [CL 424]

157 ⇒ TO PETER D. BERNARD [March 24, 1843] [CL 425]

Philadelphia March 24, 1843.

My Dear Sir,

With this letter I mail to your address a number of the “Philadelphia Saturday Museum”, containing a Prospectus of “The Stylus”, a Magazine which I design to commence on the first of July next, in connexion with Mr Thomas C. Clarke, of this city.

My object in addressing you is to ascertain if the list of “The South: Lit: Messenger” is to be disposed of, and, if so, upon what terms. We are anxious to purchase the list and unite it with that of “The Stylus,” provided a suitable arrangement could be made. I should be happy to hear from you upon the subject. [page 231:]

I hear of you occasionally, and most sincerely hope that you are doing well. Mrs Clemm & Virginia desire to be remembered to all our old acquaintances. Believe me,

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

P. D. Bernard Esqre

Bernard was Thomas W. White’s son-in-law. The prospectus of the Stylus appeared in the issue of March 4, 1843, p. 3 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 376). White, publisher of the SLM, died January 19, 1843 (see B. B. Minor, The Southern Literary Messenger, p. 98; see also the Dictionary of American Biography, XX, 120. No reply from Bernard is known. [CL 425]

158 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [March 27, 1843] [CL 427]

Philadelphia March 27. 43

My Dear Friend,

I have just received yours of the 24th and am deeply grieved, first that you should have been so unfortunate, and, secondly, that you should have thought it necessary to offer me any apology for your misfortunes. As for the few dollars you owe me — give yourself not one moment’s concern about them. I am poor, but must be very much poorer, indeed, when I even think of demanding them.

But I sincerely hope all is not as bad as you suppose it, and that, when you come to look about you, you will be able to continue “The Pioneer”. Its decease, just now, would be a most severe blow to the good cause — the cause of a Pure Taste. I have looked upon your Magazine, from its outset, as the best in America, and have lost no opportunity of expressing the opinion. Herewith I send a paper, “The Phil: Sat. Museum”, in which I have said a few words on the topic.

I am not editing this paper, although an announcement was prematurely made to that effect; but have the privilege of inserting what I please editorially. On the first of July next I hope to issue the first number of “The Stylus” a new monthly, with some novel features. I send you, also, a paper containing the Prospectus. In a few weeks I hope to forward you a specimen sheet. I [page 2] am anxious to get a poem from yourself for the opening number, but, until you [page 232:] recover your health, I fear that I should be wrong in making the request.

Believe me, my dear friend, that I sympathise with you truly in your affliction. When I heard that you had returned to Boston, I hoped you were entirely well, and your letter disappoints and grieves me.

When you find yourself in condition to write, I would be indebted to you if you could put me in the way of procuring a brief article (also for my opening number) from Mr Hawthorne — whom I believe you know personally. Whatever you gave him, we should be happy to give. A part of my design is to illustrate, whatever is fairly susceptible of illustration, with finely executed wood-engravings — after the fashion of Gigoux’s “Gil Blas” or “Grandville’s Gulliver”and I wish to get a tale from Mr Hawthorne as early as possible (if I am so fortunate as to get one at all) that I may put the illustration in the hands of the artist.

You will see by the Prospectus that we intend to give a series of portraits of the American literati, with critical sketches. I would be glad if I could so arrange matters as to have you first — provided you yourself have no serious objection. Instead of the “full-length portraits” promised in the Prospectus (which will be modified in the specimen-sheet) we shall have medallions, about 3 inches in diameter. Could you put me in possession of any likeness of yourself? — or could you do me the same favor in regard to Mr Hawthorne? — You perceive [page 3] I proceed upon the ground that you are intimate with Mr H, and that making these inquiries would not subject you to trouble or inconvenience.

I confess that I am by no means so conversant with your own compositions (especially in prose) as I should be. Could you furnish me with some biographical & critical data, and tell me where or how I could be put in possession of your writings generally? — but I fear I am asking altogether too much.

If the 4th number of “The Pioneer” is printed, I would be obliged if you would send me an early copy through the P.O.

Please remember me to Mr Carter & believe me

Most sincerely Your friend,

Edgar A Poe

J. Russell Lowell Esqre [page 233:]

Lowell’s Pioneer ceased with the March issue, owing to its high editorial standards and the rigorous terms of the contract between Lowell and Carter and the publishers, Leland and Whiting (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 735-736), and to Lowell’s ophthalmia. Even if Lowell had paid Poe for “Lenore,” in the February number, he still owed $10 for the “Notes on English Verse” (see Letter 163 and note and Letter 164). For Poe’s prospectus of the Stylus, see Letter 153 and note. For the promise of likenesses of Hawthorne and Lowell, see Lowell to Poe, April 17, 1843 (W, II, 23-24). For the “biographical & critical data” concerning Lowell, see Lowell to Poe, May 8, 1843 (ibid., pp. 25-27). Robert Carter had been co-editor of the Pioneer. [CL 427]

159 ⇒ TO WILLIAM MACKENZIE [ante April 22, 1843] [CL 432]

[Philadelphia, April (?), 1843]

I write to get you to do me a gre[at] favor-that is, to ascertain from the heirs, or successors, of Mr White, whether, The subscription list of “The S. L. Messenger” is for sale or not, and, if for sale, upon what terms. A capitalist of this place is anxious to purchase, if possible, and, as I am interested, I will take it as a very great favor if you will make the necessary inquiries, and write me as soon as possible.

We are all well. Virginia is nearly recovered — indeed I may say quite so — with the exception of a slight cough, which is only noticeable in the morning.

Tell Rose I hope to see her before long, and that I will write her soon. Give my best love to all.

In great hastie

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

[W]m Mackenzie Esqre

The upper portion of this MS. is missing (see Note 159). In connection with this letter, see Poe’s similar request to Bernard in Letter 157; no reply from either correspondent is known. Thomas W. White died on January 19, 1843, and B. B. Minor bought his interest in the Southern Literary Messenger, July 15, 1843 (see Minor, The Southern Literary Messenger, pp. 98, 104). The William Mackenzies took the orphan Rosalie Poe at the same time that the Allans took Edgar; whether Poe visited his sister in Richmond, as he here promises, is not known, nor is there any known letter from Poe to Rosalie. [CL 432] [page 234:]

160 ⇒ TO LUCY D. HENRY [June 20, 1843] [CL 442]

Philadelphia June 20, 1843.

Dear Madam,

It gives me pleasure to comply with the very flattering request contained in your letter to my sister of March 26th.

With the Highest Respect I am, Madam,

Yr Mo. Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Miss Lucy D. Henry.

Lucy Dorothea Henry, daughter of Edward Winston Henry, was the granddaughter of Patrick Henry, of Red Mill, Charlotte County, Virginia. As a young girl, while living with her grandfather, she developed an ardent desire to possess the autographs of writers of her time. Why she wrote to Rosalie Poe, and not to Poe directly, is not known. Later she married Octave Laighton, and they went to Quincy, Illinois, where they published a paper. After 1857 they moved to Springdale, near Petersburg, Virginia. Her album, including the letter, was given to the Poe Foundation by her daughter, Fayetta Henry Laighton. [CL 442]

161 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [June 20, 1843] [CL 443]

Philadelphia June 20, 1843.

My Dear Friend,

I owe you fifty apologies for not having written you before — but sickness and domestic affliction will suffice for all.

I received your poem, which you undervalue, and which I think truly beautiful — as, in fact, I do all you have ever written — but, alas! my Magazine scheme has exploded — or, at least, I have been deprived, through the imbecility, or rather through the idiocy of my partner, of all means of prosecuting it for the present. Under better auspices I may resume it next year.

What am I to do with the poem? I have handed it to Griswold, subject to your disposition.

My address is 234, North Seventh St above Spring Garden, West Side. Should you ever pay a visit to Philadelphia, you will remember [page 235:] that there is no one in America whom I would rather hold by the hand than yourself.

With the sincerest friendship

I am yours.

Edgar A Poe

For the troubles referred to in paragraph one, see William Poe to Poe, June 15, 1843, in H, xvtt, 145-146. Lowell’s poem was sent as Poe had requested in Letter 158, for the first number of the Stylus. Poe’s “partner” had been Thomas C. Clarke (see Letter 153 and note). Rufus W. Griswold succeeded Poe as an editor of Graham’s, with the June number, 1842, remaining until October 1843 (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 544). For more about Poe’s North Seventh Street home, see Quinn, Poe, pp. 384-386. [CL 443]

162 ⇒ TO JOHN TOMLIN [August 28, 1843] [CL 448]

Phila., August 28, 1843.

My dear Sir,

I have just recd your letter, enclosing one in hieroglyphical writing from Mr. Meek, and hasten to reply, since you desire it; although, some months ago, I was obliged to make a vow that I would engage in the solution of no more cryptographs. The reason of my making this vow will be readily understood. Much curiosity was excited throughout the country by my solutions of these cyphers, and a great number of persons felt a desire to test my powers individually — so that I was at one time absolutely overwhelmed; and this placed me in a dilemma; for I had either to devote my whole time to the solutions, or the correspondents would suppose me a mere boaster, incapable of fulfilling my promises. I had no alternative but to solve all; but to each correspondent I made known my intentions to solve no more. You will hardly believe me when I tell you that I have lost, in time, which to me is money, more than a thousand dollars, in solving ciphers, with no other object in view than that just mentioned. A really difficult cipher requires vast labor and the most patient thought in its solution. Mr. Meek’s letter is very simple indeed, and merely shows that he misapprehends the whole matter. It runs thus: — [Here follows the solution]

This is the whole of Mr. Meek’s letter — but he is mistaken in supposing [page 236:] that I “pride myself” upon my solutions of ciphers. I feel little pride about anything.

It is very true, as he says, that cypher writing is “no great difficulty if the signs represent invariably the same letters and are divided into separate words.” But the fact is, that most of the criptographs sent to me (Dr. Frailey’s for instance) were not divided into words, and moreover, the signs never represented the same letter twice.

But here is an infallible mode of showing Mr. Meek that he knows nothing about the matter. He says cipher writing “is no great difficulty if the signs represent invariably the same letters and are divided into separate words.” This is true; and yet, little as this difficulty is, he cannot surmount it. Send him, as if from yourself, these few words, in which the conditions stated by him are rigidly preserved. I will answer for it, he cannot decipher them for his life. They are taken at random from a well-known work now lying beside me: — [Here follows Poe’s cryptograph]

And now, my dear friend, have you forgotten that I asked you, some time since, to render me an important favor? You can surely have no scruples in a case of this kind. I have reason to believe that I have been maligned by some envious scoundrel in this city, who has written you a letter respecting myself. I believe I know the villain’s name. It is Wilmer. In Philadelphia no one speaks to him. He is avoided by all as a reprobate of the lowest class. Feeling a deep pity for him, I endeavoured to befriend him, and you remember that I rendered myself liable to some censure by writing a review of his filthy pamphlet called the “Quacks of Helicon.” He has returned my good offices by slander behind my back. All here are anxious to have him convicted — for there is scarcely a gentleman in Phila whom he has not libelled, through the gross malignity of his nature. Now, I ask you, as a friend and as a man of noble feelings, to send me his letter to you. It is your duty to do this — and I am sure, upon reflection, you will so regard it.

I await your answer impatiently.

Your friend,

E. A. Poe.

For Tomlin, see the note to Letter 101. Tomlin sent Poe the cipher from Alexander B. Meek of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with the comment that Poe should “make something out of it,” since “many of our [page 237:] learned citizens have endeavored but in vain to solve it.” On the envelope of Tomlin’s letter are symbols representing, apparently, part or all of those found in the Meek cipher, and beside each is Poe’s suggested alphabetical equivalent:

∠⊓ = p  = t ‡ = h = e ⊔ = o  = f > = n + = b

÷Δ = l ∧ = <h>g < = s £ = a § = m = w 3 = r ? = l

ὠ = u X = c ÷ = j † = d = y ! = L = v

Poe’s solution to Meek’s cipher is lost, as is his cipher sent to Meek. Poe’s suspicion that Wilmer had written Tomlin was correct, for Tomlin sent Poe the letter on September 10, 1843 (see Tomlin’s letter in W, II, 41, and Wilmer’s letter to Tomlin, ibid., pp. 42-43). For Poe’s review of Lambert A. Wilmer’s The Quacks of Helicon, see Graham’s Magazine, August 1841 (reprinted in H, x, 182-195). In connection with the present letter and Poe’s skill as a solver of ciphers, see W. K. Wimsatt, Jr., “What Poe Knew about Cryptography,” Publications of the Modern Language Association, LVIII (September 1943) 754-779. [CL 448]

163 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [September 13, 1843] [CL 450]

Philadelphia September 13. 1843.

My Dear Friend,

Since I last wrote you I have suffered much from domestic and pecuniary troubles, and, at one period, had nearly succumbed. I mention this by way of apology to the request I am forced to make — that you would send me, if possible, $10 — which, I believe, is the amount you owe me for contribution. You cannot imagine how sincerely I grieve that any necessity can urge me to ask this of you — but I ask it in the hope that you are now in much better position than myself, and can spare me the sum without inconvenience.

I hope ere long to have the pleasure of conversing with you personally. There is no man living with whom I have so much desire to become acquainted.

Truly your friend,

Edgar A Poe

J. R. Lowell Esqre

C. E. Norton, having placed an asterisk after “contribution,” wrote, in the right margin: “To the Pathfinder [Pioneer]. The cost of supporting this journal was much greater than the receipts from its publication, and the balance came out of Lowell’s [continued in the left margin, [page 238:] over Poe’s writing] pocket. The four [three] numbers left him heavily in debt [$1800, according to Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 738]. By a letter of Poe’s of Oct — [19, 1843] it appears that the $10 was paid to him. C. E. Norton. 1884.” Poe “last wrote” June 20, 1843. Poe met Lowell only once, probably in May, 1845 (see W, II, 137). [CL 450]

164 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [October 19, 1843] [CL 457]

Philadelphia, Oct. 19. 1843.

My Dear Friend,

I was upon the point of fulfilling a long neglected duty and replying to Mr Carter’s letter, enclosing $5, when I received yours of the 13th, remitting 5 more. Believe me I am sincerely grateful to you both for your uniform kindness and consideration.

You say nothing of your health — but Mr C. speaks of its perfect restoration, and I see, by your very M S., that you are well again, body & mind. I need not say that I am rejoiced at this — for you must know and feel that I am. When I thought of the possible loss of your eye-sight, I grieved as if some dreadful misfortune were about happening to myself.

I shall look with much anxiety for your promised volume. Will it include your “Year’s Life” and other poems already published? I hope that it may; for these have not yet been fairly placed before the eye of the world. I am seeking an opportunity to do you justice in a review, and may find it, in “Graham,” when your book appears. No poet in America has done so much. I have maintained this upon all occasions. M’ Longfellow has genius, [page 2] but by no means equals you in the true spirit. He is moreover so prone to imitation that I know not how to understand him at times. I am in doubt whether he should not be termed an arrant plagiarist. You have read his “Spanish Student”? I have written quite a long notice of it for Graham’s December number. The play is a poor composition, with some fine poetical passages. His “Hymn to the Night”, with some strange blemishes, is glorious. — How much I should like to interchange opinions with you upon poems and poets in general! I fancy that we should agree, usually, in results, while differing, frequently, about principles. The day may come when we can discuss everything at leisure, in person.

You say that your long poem has taught you a useful lesson “that you are unfit to write narrative — unless in a dramatic form”. It is [page 239:] not you that are unfit for the task — but the task for you — for any poet. Poetry must eschew narrative — except, as you say, dramatically. I mean to say that the true poetry — the highest poetry — must eschew it. The Iliad is not the highest. The connecting links of a narration — the frequent passages which have to serve the purpose of binding together the parts of the story, are necessarily prose, from their very explanatory nature. To color them — to gloss over their prosaic nature — (for this is the most which can be done) requires great skill. Thus Byron, who was no artist, is always driven, in his narrative, to fragmentary passages, eked out with asterisks. Moore succeeds better than any one. His “Alciphron” is wonderful in the force, grace, and nature of its purely narrative passages: — but pardon me for prosing.

I send you the paper with my life and portrait. The former is true in general — the latter particularly false. [page 3] It does not convey the faintest idea of my person. No one of my family recognised it. But this is a point of little importance. You will see, upon the back of the biography, an announcement that I was to assume the editorship of the “Museum”. This was unauthorized. I never did edit it. The review of “Graham’s Magazine” was written by H. B. Hirst — a young poet of this city.

Who is to write your life for “Graham?” It is a pity that so many of these biographies were entrusted to Mr Griswold. He certainly lacks independence, or judgment, or both.

I have tried in vain to get a copy of your “Years Life” in Philadelphia. If you have one, and could spare it, I would be much obliged.

Do write me again when you have leisure, and believe me,

Your most sincere friend,

Edgar A Poe

J. R. Lowell Esqre

Carter’s letter, ante October 19, 1843, is unlocated, but like Lowell’s enclosed $5 due Poe for his contribution, probably “Notes on English Verse,” in the third and last number of the Pioneer, March 1843; Poe had requested the payment in his letter to Lowell, September 13. Carter had written Poe on June 1g (see W, II, 28-31), saying that Lowell’s “eyes have nearly recovered their usual strength.” The letter says nothing of the $5 due Poe, and being written in June before Poe’s request for payment, is almost certainly separate from the one alluded to above. Lowell’s Poems (1844) was reviewed by Poe in Graham’s, March 1844 (reprinted in H, XI, 243-249). Poe’s review of Longfellow’s Spanish [page 240:] Student did not appear in Graham’s (but see Letter 179; Poe’s “The American Drama,” in the American Review, August 1845, reprinted in H, XIII, 33-73; and Poe’s replies to “Outis,” reprinted in H, XII, 41-106, especially pp. 96-104), Poe’s biography and portrait appeared in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, February 25, 1843, and was reprinted March 4. A Year’s Life (1841) was Lowell’s first volume of poetry. [CL 457]

165 ⇒ TO JOSEPH H. HEDGES [November 16, 1843] [CL 460]

[Philadelphia] November 16, 1843

[...  . .]

I presume the request you make, in your note of the 14th, has reference to my grandfather Gen. David Poe, and not to my father David Poe, Jr. I regret to say, however, that, owing to peculiar circumstances, I have in my possession no autograph of either...  .

[No signature]

The identity of Joseph H. Hedges is not known. No other letters are known to have been exchanged between Poe and Hedges. [CL 460]

166 ⇒ TO JOEL B. SUTHERLAND [January 13, 1844] [CL 462]

J. B. Sutherland Esqre

My Dear Sir,

Will you permit me to introduce to you my friend Mr Robert Travers, of this city, who will hand you this note? He is an applicant for a post in the Revenue Service. If you could further his views in any regard, I would consider myself as under the very deepest personal obligation.

Mr Travers is of the Hughes’ family, of Southwark, which has always possessed much political influence. As an experienced seaman, he is, also, well qualified for the appointment he solicits.

Very truly & respectfully Yours,

Edgar A. Poe

Philadelphia. Jan: 13. 1844.

Joel Barlow Sutherland was a Philadelphia lawyer and United States Congressman from Pennsylvania in 1836, having served five terms. As chairman of the committee on commerce he had interested himself in river and harbor development and in the promotion of Philadelphia [page 241:] projects, especially the navy yard and the Delaware breakwater (see the Dictionary of American Biography, XVIII, 222-223). Nothing further is known of Robert Travers, nor of Poe’s association with him or Mr. Sutherland. [CL 462]

167 ⇒ TO MR. CLARK [ante January 31, 1844 or early 1846] [CL 463]

[ante January 31, 1844

or early 1846]

My Dear Mr Clark

I am exceedingly anxious to try my fortune in Baltimore with a lecture or two, and wish, if possible, to go immediately. I have some little money —

[...  ..]

Very truly yours

E A Poe.

The identity of Mr. Clark is not known. In connection with the proposed lectures, see Note 167. [CL 463]

168 ⇒ TO ISAAC MUNROE [January 31, 1844] [CL 464]

[Baltimore, January 31, 1844]

My dear Sir,

I have been endeavouring for the last two days to see you and beg of you to do me the kindness to call attention, in the “Patriot” to a lecture on “American Poetry”, which I propose to deliver this evening (Wednesday) at the Odd Fellows’ Hall in Gay Street. I hope yet to have the honor of seeing you before I leave town.

If not too late, will you say a good word for me in this afternoon’s paper.

Most respectfully yours,

Edgar A. Poe

Wednesday morning

Mr. Isaac Munroe.

The Baltimore Sun of January 31, 1844 carried the following announcement: “A Lecture on American Poetry by Edgar A. Poe in Odd Fellows Hall, in Gay Street, on this evening 31st, at half-past 7 o’clock” (see [page 242:] P, I, 850). Elsewhere in the same paper appears: “... the lecture by Mr. Poe ... this evening in the Egyptian Saloon of Odd Fellows’ Hall. The name of the lecturer, the subject of the lecture, and the well known adaptation of the talents of the one to the material of the other, form a combination of attractions which will irresistibly result in a crowded audience-and our word for it a delighted one” (excerpt supplied through the courtesy of William D. Hoyt, Jr., Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore). The Baltimore American also carried a puff; but no issue of the Patriot of that date has been located. [CL 464]

168a ⇒ TO JOHN P. KENNEDY [February 1, 1844] [CL 464a]

[Baltimore, Feb. 1, 1844]

Thursday Morning, 7 a.m.

Some matters which would not be put off, have taken me to Elkton — so that I shall not have the pleasure of dining with you today, as proposed. Before leaving Baltimore, however, I hope to give you another call.

Most truly yours,

Edgar A. Poe

Poe lectured in Baltimore on Wednesday evening, January 31, 1844 (see Letter 168 and note), and probably had made a visit to his friend Kennedy who invited Poe to dinner before his return to Philadelphia. There is little to clarify the “matters” that took Poe to Elkton, Maryland, unless, perhaps, it had something to do with the lectures he was giving at this time (see Letters 170 and 171). [CL 464a]

169 ⇒ TO GEORGE LIPPARD [February 18, 1844] [CL 466]

Philadelphia, Feb. 18, 1844.

My Dear Lippard —

It will give me pleasure to attend to what you suggest. In a day or two you shall hear from me farther.

Touching the “Ladye Annabel,” I regret that, until lately, I could find no opportunity of giving it a thorough perusal. The opinion I expressed to you, personally, was based, as I told you, upon a very cursory examination. It has been confirmed, however, by a subsequent reading at leisure. You seem to have been in too desperate a hurry to [page 243:] give due attention to details; and thus your style, although generally nervous, is at times somewhat exuberant — but the work, as a whole, will be admitted, by all but your personal enemies, to be richly inventive and imaginative — indicative of genius in its author.

And as for these personal enemies, I cannot see that you need put yourself to any especial trouble about THEM. Let a fool alone — especially if he be both a scoundrel and a fool — and he will kill himself far sooner than you can kill him by any active exertion. Besides — as to the real philosophy of the thing — you should regard small animosities — the animosities of small men — of the literary animalculae (who have their uses, beyond doubt) — as so many tokens of your ascent — or, rather as so many stepping stones to your ambition. I have never yet been able to make up my mind whether I regard as the higher compliment, the approbation of a man of honor and talent, or the abuse of an ass or a blackguard. Both are excellent in their way — for a man who looks steadily up.

If my opinion of “The Ladye Annabel” can be of any service to you whatever, you have my full permission to publish this letter, or any portion of it you may deem proper.

With respect and friendship,



To George Lippard, Esq.

Chestnut and Seventh Sts.

George Lippard, of Philadelphia, became very popular as a writer and a lecturer on “legends” of the Revolution, though his literary works were not generally recognized by American critics. He was on the staff of the Spirit of the Times from late in 1841 until some time in 1842. In his “Bread Crust Papers” he was responsible for naming Thomas Dunn English, “Thomas Done Brown” and Henry Beck Hirst, “Henry Bread Crust.” Herbert Tracy, his second novel, began as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post, October 22, 1842. “The Ladye Annabel” was contributed in 1843 to The Citizen Soldier, a new weekly with which he was associated (see the Dictionary of American Biography, XI, 285-286). In printing Poe’s letter to him at the end of Herbert Tracy, Lippard wrote a brief introduction under the caption, “A Word to the Reader,” in which he said that an author’s enemies sometimes need a rebuke such as that given “in certain italicized portions of the following letter from the author of ‘Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque’ — Edgar A. Poe, Esq., universally confessed one of the most gifted men in the land.” [CL 466] [page 244:]


Philadelphia March 1. 44


Through some accident which I am at a loss to understand, your letter dated and postmarked Decr 29, has only this moment come to hand; having been lying, ever since, in the Phila P. Office. I hope, therefore, you will exonerate me from the charge of discourtesy in not sooner replying to your very flattering request.

I presume that your Lectures are over for the season; but, should this not be the case, it will give me great pleasure to deliver a Discourse before your Society at any period you may appoint; not later than the 9th inst:

With High Respect

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

Mess: Jno: C. Myers

Sam: Williams

Wm Greaff Jr

In connection with this letter, see Letter 171 and note. [CL 468]


Philadelphia March 7, 1844.


I have just received your favor of the 5th, and will be pleased to deliver a Lecture on “American Poetry” in Reading, on Tuesday the 12th inst., if convenient. Please reply by return of mail and let me know at what place I shall meet the Committee.

Very Resply,

Yr. Ob. Svt.,

Edgar A. Poe

Mess. Sam. Williams

Wm. Graeff Jr.

The lecture was delivered on March 13, 1844; for, according to the Baltimore Sun, Thursday, March 21, 1844: “Edgar A. Poe ... distinguished writer delivered his much extolled lecture, ‘Poets and Poetry [page 245:] of America’ at Reading, Pa., Wednesday last. He was greeted by a large audience and they testified their appreciation by repeated bursts of applause.” — This note was furnished through the courtesy of Thomas O. Mabbott. [CL 471]

172 ⇒ TO CORNELIUS MATHEWS [March 15, 1844] [CL 473]

Philadelphia March 15, 1844.

Dr Sir,

I have a letter and small parcel for Mr Horne, your friend, and the author of “Orion”. Would you be so kind as to furnish me with his address? — and to put me in the best way of forwarding the package securely?

I am reminded that I am your debtor for many little attentions, and embrace this opportunity of tendering you my especial thanks for your able pamphlet on the International Copy-Right Question, and for the admirable Adventures of Puffer Hopkins.

Could I imagine that, at any moment, you regarded a certain impudent and flippant critique as more than a matter to be laughed at, I would proffer you an apology on the spot. Since I scribbled the article in question, you yourself have given me fifty good reasons for being ashamed of it.

With the Highest Respect & Esteem

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

To Cornelius Mathews Esqre

Cornelius Mathews of New York was associated with Evert A. Duyckinck. Poe’s apology refers to a review of Mathews’ Wakondah, in Graham’s for February 1842 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 403). In Letter 259 Poe speaks of Mathews’ play Witchcraft, and in Letter 304 calls him Margaret Fuller’s “protege.” R. H. Horne, a poet of London, England, became a Poe correspondent; the “letter and small parcel” refer to Poe’s first letter to Horne, late in March 1844, and the MS. of “The Spectacles,” which Horne was to try to place in some English magazine (Poe’s letter is not extant, but see Horne’s reply, April 16, 1844, original in Boston Public Library); Horne’s letter of April 27, not a reply to a Poe letter, but a follow-up of his earlier one, identifies the MS. tale (the original letter is in the Boston Public Library; printed in H, XVII, 167-169. This MS. of “The Spectacles” apparently was not the one from which the tale was printed in the Dollar Newspaper, X, no. 2, March 27, 1844 (see also “A List of the Texts of Poe’s Tales,” ed. [page 246:] by John Cook Wyllie, pp. 335-336). Instead it was the 38-page MS. of “The Spectacles” sold in 1920 from the library of Buxton Forman, Horne’s executor (described in the Anderson Galleries catalogue, No. 1480, March 17, 1920, p. 130). T. O. Mabbott informs me he collated the MS. for verbal variants, and that the MS. “never went through the hands of a printer. The story is unchanged, but the phrases differ [considerably].” Mathews must have replied to Poe’s letter (though location of original MS. is unknown), for Poe wrote to Horne within the next week or ten days. [CL 473]

173 ⇒ TO JAMES R. LOWELL [March 30, 1844] [CL 476]

Philadelphia March 30, 1844.

My Dear Friend,

Graham has been speaking to me, lately, about your Biography, and I am anxious to write it at once — always provided you have no objection. Could you forward me the materials within a day or two? I am just now quite disengaged — in fact positively idle.

I presume you have read the Memoir of Willis, in the April No: of G. It is written by a Mr Landor — but I think it full of hyperbole. Willis is no genius — a graceful trifler — no more. He wants force & sincerity. He is very frequently far-fetched. In me, at least, he never excites an emotion. Perhaps the best poem he has written, is a little piece called “Unseen Spirits”, beginning “The Shadow lay — Along Broadway”.

You inquire about my own portrait. It has been done for some time — but is better as an engraving, than as a portrait. It scarcely resembles me at all. When it will appear I cannot say. Conrad & Mrs Stephens will certainly come before me — perhaps Gen: Morris. My Life is not yet written, and I am at a sad loss for a Biographer — for Graham insists upon leaving the matter to myself.

[page 2] I sincerely rejoice to hear of the success of your volume. To sell eleven hundred copies of a bound book of American poetry, is to do wonders. I hope every thing from your future endeavours. Have you read “Orion”? Have you seen the article on “American Poetry” in the “London Foreign Quarterly”? It has been denied that Dickens wrote it — but, to me, the article affords so strong internal evidence of his hand that I would as soon think of doubting my existence. He tells much truth — although he evinces much ignorance and more spleen. Among other points he accuses myself of “metrical imitation” of Tennyson, citing, by way of instance, passages from poems which [page 247:] were written & published by me long before Tennyson was heard of: — but I have, at no time, made any poetical pretension. I am greatly indebted for the trouble you have taken about the Lectures, and shall be very glad to avail myself, next season, of any invitation from the “Boston Lyceum.” Thank you, also, for the hint about the North A. Review: — I will bear it in mind. I mail you, herewith, a “Dollar Newspaper”, containing a somewhat evtravagant tale of my own. I fear it will prove little to your taste.

How dreadful is the present condition of our Literature! To what are things tending? We want two things, certainly: — an International Copy-Right Law, and a well-founded Monthly Journal, of sufficient [page 3] ability, circulation, and character, to control and so give tone to, our Letters. It should be, externally, a specimen of high, but not too refined Taste: — I mean, it should be boldly printed, on excellent paper, in single column, and be illustrated, not merely embellished, by spirited wood designs in the style of Grandville. Its chief aims should be Independence, Truth, Originality. It should be a journal of some 120 pp, and furnished at $5. It should have nothing to do with Agents or Agencies. Such a Magazine might be made to exercise a prodigious influence, and would be a source of vast wealth to its proprietors. There can be no reason why 100,000 copies might not, in one or two years, be circulated: but the means of bringing it into circulation should be radically different from those usually employed.

Such a journal might, perhaps, be set on foot by a coalition, and, thus set on foot, with proper understanding, would be irresistible. Suppose, for example, that the élite of our men of letters should combine secretly. Many of them control papers &c. Let each subscribe, say $200, for the commencement of the undertaking; furnishing other means, as required from time to time, until the work be established. The articles to be supplied by the members solely, and upon a concerted plan of action. A nominal editor to be elected from among the number. How could such a journal fail? I would like very much to hear your opinion upon this matter. Could not the “ball be set in motion”? If we do not defend [page 4] ourselves by some such coalition, we shall be devoured, without mercy, by the Godeys, the Snowdens, et id genus omne.

Most truly your friend

Edgar A Poe [page 248:]

William Landor wrote the biographical sketch of Willis (see the note to Letter 119). Poe is referring to Robert T. Conrad, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, and George P. Morris, minor literary figures of the day (see Poe’s “Autography,” reprinted in H, XV, 232-233, 246, and 221). Although Poe never wrote Lowell’s biography, Lowell wrote Poe’s; it was published in Graham’s, February 1845. For Lowell’s Poems (1844), see Lowell to Poe, March 6, 1844, and the note to Letter 164. R. H. Horne’s Orion was reviewed by Poe in Graham’s, March 1844 (reprinted in H, XI, 249-275). For more on the “American Poetry” article, see Letter 175. For Poe’s lecture before the Boston Lyceum, October 16, 1845, see Letter 185. Lowell’s letter of March 6 had suggested that Poe write for the North American Review and that Lowell would get him “introduced there.” The Dollar Newspaper published “The Spectacles,” March 27, 1844. Louis A. Godey’s Lady’s Book (Philadelphia) and William W. Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion (New York) were popular magazines of the day; Poe contributed to both. [CL 476]




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


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