Text: John Ward Ostrom, “Letters: Chapter VIII,” The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: 1846-1849 (1966), pp. 307-340 (This material is protected by copyright)


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January 1846-January 1847

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222 ⇒ TO CHARLES G. PERCIVAL [January 3, 1846] [CL 605]

New-York: Jany — 3. 46.

85 Amity St.

Chas. G. Percival Esqr

Dr Sir,

A few moments of leisure leave me at liberty to look at the cypher which you have done me the honor of submitting to my inspection. It is an illegitimate cryptograph — that is to say, the chances are, that, even with the key, it would be insoluble by the authorized correspondent. Upon analysis, however, independent of the key-solution, I find the translation to be the 3 first verses of the 2d chapter of St John.

Very Respy

Yr. Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

I should be happy to hear from you in reply.

No further correspondence between Poe and Percival is known. Percival lived in Utica, New York. [CL 606]

223 ⇒ TO EVERT A. DUYCKINCK [January 8, 1846] [CL 607]

[New York] Jan 8. 46

Dear Mr Duyckinck,

For “particular reasons” I am anxious to have another volume of my Tales published before the 1rst of March. Do you not think it possible to accomplish it for me? Would not Mr. Wiley give me, say $S0, in full for the copyright of the collection I now send. It is a far better one than the first-containing, for instance, “Ligeia”, which is undoubtedly the best story I have written — besides “Sheherazade”, “The Spectacles”, “Tarr and Fether,” etc. [page 310:]

May I beg of you to give me an early answer, by note, addressed 85 Amity St.

Truly yours

Edgar A Poe

E. A. Duyckinck Esqr

Poe’s “reasons,” besides financial, undoubtedly had to do with his renewed interest in launching the Stylus (see Letter 225). Duyckinck had edited the Tales (1845) and omitted some of Poe’s best stories, including “Ligeia” (see Letter 241; also Quinn, Poe, p. 466). No reply to this letter is known; and no second edition appeared. [CL 607]

224 ⇒ TO FITZ-GREENE HALLECK [January 10, 1846] [CL 609]

My Dear Mr Halleck,

Miss Lynch desires me to say to you that she would be very much pleased to see you to-night. Miss Sedgwick, Cassius M. Clay, and some other notabilities will be present.

Truly yours

Edgar A Poe

Saturday Jan. 10 [1846]

Catherine M. Sedgwick was a writer favorably reviewed by Poe in “The Literati,” Godey’s, September 1846 (reprinted in H, XV, 108-113). Cassius M. Clay was an abolitionist editor from Lexington, Kentucky. Anne C. Lynch, who lived at 116 Waverly Place, not far from Washington Square, was often hostess to literary meetings attended by the New York and visiting Blue Stockings. Poe was a frequent visitor (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 475-476). [CL 609]

224a ⇒ TO CHARLES EDWARDS LESTER [January 10, 1846] [CL 610a]

Saturday Jan. 10 [1846]

My Dear Sir,

Miss Lynch desires me to say to you that she would be especially pleased to see you at 116 Waverley Place, this evening. Miss Sedgwick, Cassius M. Clay, and some other notabilities will be present.

Very truly yours

Edgar A Poe.

C. Edwards Lester Esqr [page 311:]

Charles Edwards Lester (1815-1850) was a Presbyterian minister and a staunch anti-slavery exponent. He was the author of numerous books and under President Polk served as Consul at Genoa and as Secretary of the Treasury (Dictionary of American Biography, XI, 189-190). For Anne C. Lynch, Miss Sedgwick, and Clay, see Letter 224 and note. [CL 610a]

225 ⇒ TO SARAH J. HALE [January 16, 1846] [CL 611]

New-York — Jan 16 — 46.

My Dear Madam,

I am afraid you have already found me guilty of gross discourtesy in failing to reply to your letter of Nov 14 — but I have postponed writing from day to day, and from week to week, in hope of being able to say something definite in regard to what you ask me concerning Wiley and Putnam — and I have, also, been in expectation of seeing you in New-York. I trust you have not quite abandoned the idea of paying us a visit.

Immediately upon receipt of “Ormond Grosvenor” I gave it a second careful reading — I had already seen it in “The Lady’s Book” — and became confirmed in my first impression of its remarkable vigor and dramaticism. I not only think highly of this individual play, but I deduce from some passages of it — especially towards its dénouement — that, with earnest endeavor in this walk of Literature, you would succeed far better than any American in the composition of that rare work of art, an effective acting play. At the same time I must not forbear saying that a curtailment of some of the mere dialogue of [page 2] “Ormond Grosvenor” would, in my opinion, tend to its improvement.

In our literary circles here your “Alice Ray” is universally appreciated and admired.

For “Harry Guy” I should prefer the subtitle of “A Tale in Verse” to that of “A Tale in Rhyme” — although there is little choice. I think Clark & Austin or Paine & Burgess would be more willing to publish it, and afford you more liberal terms, than Wiley & Putnam — although, in point of caste, the latter are to be preferred, and their issues are sure of some notice in England.

I believe that, as yet, I have not even had the courtesy to thank you for your sweet lines from “The Sabbath and its Rest.” Upon the [page 312:] principle of “better late than never” will you permit me to thank you, very sincerely, now?

Should I visit Philadelphia, at any time, I shall undoubtedly do myself the honor of calling on you.

In the meantime I am With the Highest respect

Your Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe

Mrs S. J. Hale.

[page 3] P.S. — I send the play, with this note, by Harden’s express. The B. Journal had fulfilled its destiny — which was a matter of no great moment. I have never regarded it as more than a temporary adjunct to other designs. I am now busy making arrangements for the establishment of a Magazine which offers a wide field for literary ambition. Professor Chas. Anthon has agreed to take charge for me of a Department of Criticism on Scholastic Letters. His name will be announced. I shall have, also, a Berlin and a Parisian correspondent — both of eminence. The first No. may not appear until Jan. 1847.

Ormond Grosvenor, a tragedy, was published in 1838 (see Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography (1888), III, 35); Alice Ray, a romance in rhyme, was published in Philadelphia, 1845 (a copy is in the Library of Congress). Poe reviewed it in the Broadway Journal, November 1, 1845 (see H, XII, 259-262); and Harry Guy was published in 1848 (see Appleton’s, ibid.). At the time of the present letter, Mrs. Hale was the editor of Godey’s. In the Broadway Journal, January 3, 1846, Poe wrote: “Unexpected engagements demanding my whole attention, and the objects being fulfilled, so far as regards myself personally, for which ‘The Broadway journal’ was established, I now, as its Editor, bid farewell — as cordially to foes as to friends” (see Quinn, Poe, p. 494). Poe’s hope of establishing the Stylus was still but a hope, though his optimism was evidenced in various letters to friends at this time. No letters exist corroborating Poe’s statements about Professor Anthon and the foreign correspondents. [CL 611]

226 ⇒ TO [EVERT A. DUYCKINCK?] [January 30, 1846] [CL 612]

[New York]

[...  . .]

Have you any personal acquaintance with Carey (John Waters) ? If so will you be kind enough to note me, in brief, a few memoranda [page 313:] respg his personal appearance, age, residence etc? — the same about W. A. Jones. Is Herbert living in N. Y? — if so, where? Where does Hoffman live? in what street I mean. Do you know where Hoyt & Hunt live? — or Inman — or Mancur — or Gen. Morris — or O’Sullivan — or Paulding — or Prof. Robinson of the Uny or Verplanck — or Tuckerman. Do you know Stephens the traveller so as to describe him? Please describe Schoolcraft & tell me where he lives — and Cheever, if you can. A very few words abt each will suffice.

Have you seen Tupper’s notice of my Tales yet? if so — how is it? long or short — sweet or sour? — if you have it, please lend it me.

I send this note by Mrs C. Should she not see you, can’t you contrive to step in at 85 Amity St — some time to-day or tomorrow?

Truly Yours


Jan 30. [1846]

Poe’s present queries suggest preparation for his “Literati” papers, published in Godey’s, May — October 1846. [CL 612]

227 ⇒ TO PHILIP P. COOKE [April 16, 1842] [CL 621]

New-York — April 16 — 42. [1846]

My Dear Sir,

Your three last letters reached me day before yesterday, all at once. I have been living in the country for the last two months (haing been quite sick) and all letters addressed to 85 Amity St. were very sillily retained there, until their accumulation induced the people to send them to the P. Office. When you write again address me, at large, N. Y. I fully agree with you (and a little to boot) about Minor. He is the King of Donkey-dom. Your “Power of the Bards” is glorious. I have sent it to Colton, who will be delighted with it — I mean Colton of the “American Review.” Not being yet able to leave my room I sent, also, your “Turkey-Hunter” to Porter, with a note, speaking of you as I have always spoken. I enclose you his reply. I retain the MSS. Tell me what I shall do with them. You ask for information about the usual pay of the Magazines. A definite [page 314:] answer is impossible. They graduate their pay by mere whimapparent popularity — or their own opinion of merit. Real merit is rather no recommendation. For my last two contributions to “Graham” — 5 pp. of “Marginalia” and 4 pp “Philosophy of Composition” (have you seen this latter?) I received $50 — about 8 per page. I furnish Godey regular papers (one each month) at $5 per page. The $ 5 Magazines do not pay quite so well and are by no means so prompt. Colton gives me $3 per page and the Dem. Review $2 — but I seldom send anything to the latter. “Arthur’s Magazine” gave me, not long ago, $10 a page for a paper “The Sphynx” — but the pay is no pay for the degradation. What others get from the Magazines I can scarcely say — although I know that Willis and Longfellow have been liberally paid — liberally as times go & as publishers think. When your book comes out, I fancy that it will make a stir in England — and enable you to do well in letters — pecuniarily well. You will yet have Fame & get it easily. Money follows at its heels, as a matter of course. Griswold is quite right about the externals of your book. Never commit yourself as a pamphleteer. — I am now writing for Godey a series of articles called “The N. Y. City Literati”. They will run through the year & include personal descriptions, as well as frank opinions of literary merit. Pending the issue of this series, I am getting ready similar papers to include American littérateurs generally — and, by the beginning of December, I hope to put to press (here and in England) a volume embracing all the articles under the common head “The Living Literati of the U S.” — or something similar. Of course I wish to say something [page 2] of yourself. What shall I quote? “Rosalie Lee” I have not. Would it put you to much trouble to copy it for me? Give me, also, (if you think it right) some account of your literary projects — purposes etc. — The volume is to be prefaced by some general remarks on our Literature and pre-prefaced by the Memoir of myself, by Lowell, which appeared in Graham’s Mag. for February 1845. This Memoir, however, is defective, inasmuch as it says nothing of my latest & I think my best things — “The Raven” (for instance), “The Valdemar Case”, etc. May I ask of you the great favor to add a P.S. to Lowell’s article -bringing up affairs as you well know how. I ask this of you-what I would ask of no other man — because I fancy that you appreciate me — estimate my merits & demerits at a just value. If you are willing to oblige me — speak frankly above all — [page 315:] speak of my faults, too, as forcibly as you can. The length of the P.S. I leave to yourself.

Very cordially yours

Edgar A Poe

P.S. I cannot lay my hand on Porter’s note. The substance of it, however, was — that he had read the article with great pleasure but as the “present publisher of the Spirit of the T” could not pay, he was forced reluctantly to return the M.S.

Poe seemingly left 85 Amity Street after January 30, 1846 (the last known letter citing that address) and moved to Turtle Bay, now the foot of 47th Street, then to Fordham (see Quinn, Poe, p. 506). William T. Porter was editor and publisher of the Spirit of the Times (New York), an “all-round sporting journal” (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 480, 801). Poe’s recital of payment for contributions should be compared with references in Letter 187 and elsewhere in the general correspondence; his figures here seem rather exaggerated. For the “Literati” articles, see Letter 141 and note. For Cooke’s “Memoir” of Poe, herein asked for, see the note to Letter 240. [CL 621]

228 ⇒ TO GEORGE W. EVELETH [April 16, 1846] [CL 622]

New-York — April 16. 46.

My Dear Sir,

You seem to take matters very easily and I really wonder at your patience under the circumstances. But the truth is I am in no degree to blame[.] Your letters, one and all, reached me in due course of mail — and I attended to them, as far as I could.

The business, in fact, was none of mine but of the person to whom I transferred the journal and in whose hands it perished.

Of course, I feel no less in honor bound to refund you your money, and now do so, with many thanks for your promptness & courtesy.

Very cordially yours

Edgar A Poe

G. W. Evelett Esqr

Eveleth’s first letters concerned a subscription fee sent for the Broadway Journal. Poe sold a one-half interest in the magazine to Thomas H. Lane, December 3, 1845, Poe retaining editorial charge (see Quinn, Poe, p. 492). Poe wrote his valedictory in the issue dated January 3, 1846. [CL 622] [page 316:]

229 ⇒ TO EVERT A. DUYCKINCK [April 28, 1846] [CL 628]

[New York] April 28. [1846]

Dear Duyckinck,

Mrs C. tells me that you had some conversation with her about Keese and myself -and I have thought it best to enclose you my letter to him. May I ask of you the favor to look it over and then seal it and send it to him? — unless you have anything to suggest — in which case please do not send it until you can communicate with me.

I enclose, also, a letter from the Lit. Societies of the Vermont University. My object is to ask you to get inserted, editorially, in the “Morning News”, or some other paper, a paragraph to this effect: — or something similar.

EDGAR A. POE. — By a concurrent vote of the Literary Societies of the University of Vermont. Mr Poe has been elected Poet for their ensuing Anniversary in August next — but we are sorry to hear that continued ill health, with a pressure of engagements, will force him to decline the office.

Please preserve the letter of the Societies.

It strikes me that, some time ago, Wiley & Putnam advertised for autographs of distinguished Amer. statesmen. Is it so? I have well-preserved letters from John Randolph, Chief Justice Marshall, Madison, Adams, Wirt, Duane, E. Everett, Clay, Cass, Calhoun and some others — and I would exchange them for books.

Truly Yours

E A Poe (over[)]

[page 2] Can either you or Mathews furnish me with autographs of any of the following persons? Cheever — Cary — Cranch — Francis — Mrs Stephens — Clark — Verplanck — Aldrich — Maroncelli — Wetmore — Fay — Greeley — Godwin — J. Willis — Maturin — Deming — Mrs Smith — Raymond — Headley — Brownlee — Kent — Ward — Tellkampf — S. Smith — Mrs Child — G. Spring — Jno. Stephens — Cooley — Mancur — King — T. Irving — Inman — Jones -‘Tuckerman — Mrs Godwin — Gallatin — Harring — J. Sargent — Prof. Robinso[n] -Channing — Lewis — Schoolcraft — Dewey — Brisbane — Tasistro. [page 317:]

What Duyckinck told Mrs. Clemm probably inspired Poe’s letter to John Keese (unlocated), which, if sent, probably bore the date of April 18, 1846. The letter from the “Literary Societies” (unlocated) possibly belongs to April 1846, also, and would suggest a reply from Poe, though he may have felt that the newspaper paragraph would suffice. Poe possessed the autographs of some, if not all, of the statesmen named: those of John Marshall, John Quincy Adams, William Wirt, Edward Everett, and Lewis Cass appeared in his “Autography”; for the signature of William Duane, he had Duane’s letter of October 15, 1844 (see Letter 184). Poe’s request for autographs was-undoubtedly in connection with his preparation of the “Literati” papers, which appeared in Godey’s, May-October 1846; the first ten in the list given in the letter and Mrs. Child were discussed in the series. Though autographs were not printed in the articles, Poe apparently used them for character-reading. Whether Duyckinck or Cornelius Mathews supplied any of the requested autographs is unknown. [CL 628]

230 ⇒ TO JEROME A: MAUBEY [April 28, 1846] [CL 629]

New-York April 28. 46.

Dear Sir,

You have, evidently, supposed me editor of “Godey’s Magazine” and sent me the poem (a very beautiful one) under that supposition. It has been returned to me from Phild I am not connected, at present, with any journal in which I could avail myself of your talents —

Truly your

E A Poe

The poem referred to here is “The Toilette,” by Jerome Maubey (see Note 230). [CL 629]

231 ⇒ TO T. HONLAND [May 25, 1846] [CL 632]

New York, May 25, 1846

Dr Sir,

It gives me great pleasure to comply with your very flattering request for an autograph.

Respy Yr Mo Ob St

Edgar Allan Poe

The identity of Honland is unknown. [CL 632] [page 318:]

232 ⇒ TO VIRGINIA POE [June 12, 1846] [CL 635]

June. 12th — 1846 [New York]

My Dear Heart, My dear Virginia! our Mother will explain to you why I stay away from you this night. I trust the interview I am promised, will result in some substantial good for me, for your dear sake, and hers-Keep up your heart in all hopefulness, and trust yet a little longer — In my last great disappontment, I should have lost my courage but for you — my little darling wife you are my greatest and only stimulus now. to battle with this uncongenial, unsatisfactory and ungrateful life — I shall be with you tomorrow P.M. and be assured until I see you, I will keep in loving remembrance your last words and your fervant prayer!

Sleep well and may God grant you a peaceful summer, with your devoted


This is the only letter Poe is known to have written to his wife (but see Letter 48, and Letter 141). Mrs. Houghton, however, wrote Ingram, January 23, 1875 (original in Ingram collection), that Poe wrote numerous “notes” to Virginia; she say’s that she does not have them, but she knows they were written. The circumstances surrounding the “interview” mentioned by Poe are unknown. [CL 635]

233 ⇒ TO JOSEPH M. FIELD [June 15, 1846] [CL 636]


New-York : June 15. 46.

Dear Field,

I have frequently seen in “The Reveille” notices of myself, evincing a kindly feeling on your part which, believe me, I reciprocate in the most cordial manner. This conviction of your friendship induces me now to beg a favor of you. I enclose an article from “The New-York Mirror” of May 26 th. headed “Mr Poe and the N. Y. Literati”. The attack is editorial & the editor is Hiram Fuller. He was a schoolmaster, about 3 years ago, in Providence, and was forced to leave that city on account of several swindling transactions in which he was found out. As soon as Willis & Morris discovered the facts, they abandoned “The Mirror”, perferring to leave it in his hands rattler [page 319:] than keep up so disreputable a connexion. This Fuller ran off with the daughter of a respectable gentleman in this city & was married. The father met the couple in the Park theatre (the Park, I think) and was so carried away by indignation at the disgrace inflicted upon his family by the marriage, that he actually struck Mrs Fuller repeated blows in the face with his clenched fist — the husband looking calmly on, and not even attempting to interfere. I pledge you the honor of a gentleman that I have not exaggerated these facts in the slightest degree. They are here notorious.

All that I venture to ask of you in the case of this attack, however, is to say a few words in condemnation of it, and to do away with the false impression of my personal appearance* it may convey, in those parts of the country where I am not individually known. You have seen me and can describe me as I am. Will you do me this act of justice, and influence one or two of your editorial friends to do the same? I know you will.

[*] I am 33 years of age-height 5 ft. 8. (over)

[page 2] I think the “N. O. Picayune”, which has always been friendly to me, will act in concert with you.

There is, also, an incidental service of great importance, just now, which you have it in your power to render me. That is, to put the following, editorially, in your paper:

<The British literary journals are admitting Mr Poe’s merits, in the most unequivocal manner>. A long and highly laudatory review of his Tales, written by Martin Farquhar Tupper, author of “Proverbial Philosophy”, “The Crock of Gold” etc., appeared in a late number of “The London Literary Gazette”. “The Athenaeum,” “The British Critic,[“] “The Spectator”, “The Popular Record” “Churton’s Literary Register”, and various other journals, scientific as well as literary, have united in approbation of Tales & Poems. “The Raven” is copied in full in the “British Critic” and “The Athenaeum”. “The Times” — the matter of fact “Times!” — copies the’ “Valdemar Case”. The world’s greatest poetess, Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, says of Mr Poe: — “This vivid writing! — this power which is felt! ‘The Raven’ has produced a sensation — a ‘fit horror’ — here in England. Some of my friends are taken by the yias of it and some by the music — but all are taken. I hear of persons absolutely haunted by the ‘Nevermore’, and one acquaintance of mine who has the misfortune of possessing a ‘bust of Pallas’ never can bear to look at it in the twilight. [page 320:] Our great poet, Mr Browning, the author of ‘Paracelsus’, ‘The Pomegranates’ etc. is enthusiastic in his admiration of the rhythm.”

After all this, Mr Poe may possibly make up his mind to endure the disapprobation of <one Hiram Fuller> the editor of the Mirror. <and other>.

Miss Barrett continues: — “Then there is a tale of his which I do not find in this volume, but which is going the rounds of the newspapers, about Mesmerism (The Valde- [page 3] mar case) throwing us all into ‘most admired disorder’, or dreadful doubts as to ‘whether it can be true’...  . The certain thing in the tale in question is the power of the writer and the faculty he has of making horrible improbabilities seem near & familiar.”

If you can oblige me in this case, you may depend on my most earnest reciprocation when where & how you please.

Cordially yours

Edgar A Poe.

P.S. Please cut out anything you may say and en[close i]t to me in a letter. A newspaper wil[l] not be [li]kely to reach me.

I have been very seriously ill for some months ⇒ and, being thus utterly unable to defend myself, must rely upon the chivalry of my friends. Fuller knows of my illness & <reli> depends upon it for his security. I have never said a word about the vagabond in my life. Some person, I presume, has hired him to abuse me.

⇒ — am now scarcely able to write even this letter —

When Wiley and Putnam, probably in February 1846, published as a compound book Poe’s Raven and Other Poems (first published in November 1845) and his Tales (first published in June 1845), Poe sent his dedication copy to Elizabeth Barrett Barrett; she received it on March 2o, 1846 (see Mabbott’s edition of The Raven and Other Poems, xvi-xviii). This compound book was made from sheets from the earlier printings, and did not include “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” which was first published in the American Review, II (December 1845), 561-565 (see Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, p. 326). Poe quotes to Field passages from Miss Barrett’s letter, dated April 1846 (original in New York Public Library), but he takes certain liberties with her original passage, though he does not materially change her meaning. Regarding Poe’s statement, “... seriously ill for some months,” one should note his remark to Eveleth, December 15, 1846, “For more than six months, I have been ill — for the greater part of that time, dangerously so, and [page 321:] quite unable to write even an ordinary letter.” Neither statement, of course, should be taken literally. To be noticed, also, is Poe’s reiteration of his age as four years younger than it was, and, therefore, his adherence to his birth date as 1813, as given to Griswold in Letter 317. [CL 636]

234 ⇒ To ———

[New York] June 16, 1846

My Dear Sir,

Can you oblige me by getting the following in “The Tribune” or some other daily?

Mr. Poe has been invited by the Literary Societies of Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa. to deliver a poem at their approaching anniversary, but this invitation, as well as that of the University of Vermont, he is forced to decline through continued illness and a press of other engagements.

Who is the “great writer of small things in Ann St” referred to by Briggs in the article about me in the Mirror, of the 26? Has anything concerning me appeared lately in Morris’ “National Press”?

Truly yours,


Poe’s request is similar to that expressed in Letter 229 to Duyckinck, and the present letter may have been addressed to Duyckinck, who probably could have provided the answers to the questions; but it seems incredible that Poe himself would not have known the “great writer of ... Ann Street,” probably Willis, former editor of the Evening Mirror and author of such inconsequentials as “Trifles” and “Slipsboddities.” In the present letter Poe identifies Charles F. Briggs as the writer of the article in the Mirror (see also Letter 233). Both N. P. Willis and George P. Morris, former editors of the Mirror, were friendly toward Poe. Morris’ National Press, begun in 1846, later became the Home Journal (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 330). [CL 638]

235 ⇒ TO HENRY B. HIRST [June 27, 1846] [CL 640]

New : York — June 27. 46.

My Dear Hirst,

I presume you have seen what I said about you in “The New-York Literati” and an attack made on me by English, in consequence. Vive la Bagatelle! [page 322:]

I write now, to ask you if you can oblige me by a fair account of your duel with English. I would take it as a great favor, also, if you would get from Sandy Harris a statement of the fracas with him. See Du Solle, also, if you can & ask him if he is willing to give me, for publication, an account of his kicking E. out of his office.

I gave E. a flogging which he will remember to the day of his death — and, luckily, in the presence of witnesses. He thinks to avenge himself by lies — by I shall be a match for him by means of simple truth.

Is it possible to procure me a copy of E’s attack on H. A. Wise?

Truly yours,


Henry Beck Hirst was a young poet of Philadelphia and had written, probably with Poe’s aid, the biographical sketch of Poe that appeared in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; he also wrote a defense of Poe in McMakin’s Model American Courier, XIX (Saturday, October 20, 1849), 2 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 653). In his “Literati” article in Godey’s, XXXIII (July 1846), 17-18, out soon after June 15, Poe attacked Thomas Dunn English, who replied in the Evening Mirror, June 23, 1846 (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 503-504). In the fall of 1845 Poe and English had been on friendly terms (see Mabbott, The Raven and Other Poems, p. xxviii). For references to names in this letter, see Poe’s “Reply to English” in the Spirit of the Times, July 10, 1846 (reprinted in H, XVII, 239-247). The nature and outcome of the “flogging” mentioned by Poe cannot at present be determined, both Poe and English having their defenders; the evidence for either side is still too tenuous. Though Poe letters “found in trunks and pillow-cases” are frequently forgeries, the above letter (found in a pillowcase, according to a comment in the Current Opinion, cited in Note 235) is genuine. At the sale of the present letter an auctioneer told Thomas O. Mabbott that the various MSS. came from a relative of Hirst; moreover, the MSS. themselves were of such nature as to exclude the possibility of forgery. There is no extant reply by Hirst to Poe’s queries; however, Poe’s published “Reply to English,” in the Spirit of the Times, suggests either that Hirst sent data or that Poe wrote the article, which is also dated June 27, using details as he knew them with the expectation of later corroboration. If Hirst replied and sent the information Poe probably incorporated it, but did not change the date at the head of the “Reply to English,” which in that case must have been begun on June 27 (see Letter 237). [CL 640] [page 323:]

236 ⇒ TO EVERT A. DUYCKINCK [June 29, 1846] [CL 643]

[New York] Monday 29. [June, 1846]

My Dear Mr Duyckinck,

I am about to send the “Reply to English” (accompanying this note) to Mr Godey — but feel anxious that some friend should read it before it goes. Will you be kind enough to look it over & show it to Mathews? Mrs C. will then take it to Harden. The particulars of the reply I would not wish mentioned to any one — of course you see the necessity of this.

The no of Littell’s Age contg the notice, is 106 — so he writes me.

Most truly yours


Cornelius Mathews was a friend of both Duyckinck and Poe. Mrs. Clemm often carried notes for Poe. Harnden’s Express was a public carrier. Reference to the notice of Poe’s Tales (1845) in Littell’s Living Age indicates a letter from Littell (unlocated) and suggests one from Poe (also unlocated), since Littell edited the magazine in Boston. [CL 643]

237 ⇒ TO LOUIS A. GODEY [July 16, 1846] [CL 646]

New-York: July 16. 46.

My Dear Sir,

I regret that you published my Reply in “The Times”. I should have found no difficulty in getting it printed here, in a respectable paper, and gratis. However — as I have the game in my own hands, I shall not stop to complain about trifles.

I am rather ashamed that, knowing me to be as poor as I am, you should have thought it advisable to make the demand on me of the $10. I confess that I thought better of you — but let it go — it is the way of the world.

The man, or men, who told you that there was anything wrong in the tone of my reply, were either my enemies, or your enemies, or [page 324:] asses. When you see them, tell them so from me. I have never written an article upon which I more confidently depend for literary reputation than that Reply. Its merit lay in being precisely adapted to its purpose. In this city I have had, upon it, the favorable judgments of the best men. All the error about it was yours. You should have done as I requested — published it in the “Book”. It is of no use to conceive a plan if you have to depend upon another for its execution.

Please distribute 20 or 30 copies of the Reply [page 2] in Phil. and send me the balance through Harnden.

What paper, or papers, have copied E’s attack?

I have put this matter in the hands of a competent attorney, and you shall see the result. Your charge, $10, will of course be brought before the court, as an item, when I speak of damages.

In perfect good feeling

Yours truly


It would be as well to address your letters to West Farms.

Please put Miss Lynch in the next number.

I enclose the Reveillé article. I presume that, ere this, you have seen the highly flattering notices of the “Picayune” and the “Charleston Courier”.

The contents of Poe’s letter to Duyckinck (Letter 236) suggest that Poe wrote to Godey, June 29, 1846, requesting that Godey print the “Reply to English,” editorially dated June 27 (see H, XVII, 239), in the Lady’s Book. Instead, Godey had it published in the Philadelphia Spirit of the Times, July 10, a sportsman’s periodical, at a cost of ten dollars, and then wrote to Poe, ca. July 14, submitting the bill. The “competent attorney” was E. L. Fancher (see Letter 238); concerning the “damages,” see the note to Letter 238. “Miss Lynch” appeared in Godey’s, September 1846 (reprinted in H, XV, 116-118), as one of the “Literati.” For identification of Miss Anne C. Lynch, see the note to Letter 224. Joseph M. Field printed in his Daily Reveillé (St. Louis), June 30, 1846, and in his weekly Reveillé, July 6, 1846, an article made up largely from Poe’s letter to him of June 15 (Letter 233 ) ; the articles in the New Orleans Picayune and the Charleston (South Carolina) Daily Courier (at present inaccessible) may have been of a similar nature. [CL 646] [page 325:]

238 ⇒ TO JOHN BISCO [July 17, 1846] [CL 647]

New-York July 17. 1846.

My Dear Mr Bisco,

You will confer a very great favor on me by stepping in, when you have leisure, at the office of E. L. Fancher, Attorney-at-Law, 33 John St. Please mention to him that I requested you to call in relation to Mr English. He will, also, show you my Reply to some attacks lately made upon me by this gentleman.

Cordially yours.


Mr John Bisco.

John Bisco, publisher of the Broadway Journal, had sold his interest to Poe in October 1845 (see several contracts between Bisco and Poe printed in Quinn, Poe, pp. 751-753). Fancher, as Poe’s lawyer, probably prosecuted the case against Fuller and Clason, editor and proprietor, of the Evening Mirror in the Superior Court of New York City, instituted on July 23, 1846, and closed on February 17, 1847, with a verdict of $225 damages in Poe’s favor (Quinn, Poe, p. 505). For the Poe-English controversy, see the note to Letter 235; also H, XVII, 233-255. [CL 647]

239 ⇒ TO DR. THOMAS H. CHIVERS [July 22, 1846] [CL 649]

New-York, July 22 / 46.

My Dear Friend,

I had long given you up (thinking that, after the fashion of numerous other friends, you had made up your mind to desert me at the first breath of what seemed to be trouble) when this morning I received no less than 6 letters from you, all of them addressed 195 East Broadway. Did you not know that I merely boarded at this house? It is a very long while since I left it, and as I did not leave it on very good terms with the landlady, she has given herself no concern about my letters — not one of which I should ever have received but for the circumstance of new tenants coming in to the house. I am living out of town about 13 miles, at a village called Fordham, on the rail-road leading north. We are in a snug little cottage, keeping house, and would be very comfortable, but that I have been for a long time dreadfully ill. I am getting better, however, although slowly, and shall get well. In the meantime the flocks of [page 326:] little birds of prey that always take the opportunity of illness to peck at a sick fowl of larger dimensions, have been endeavoring with all their power to effect my ruin. My dreadful poverty, also, has given them every advantage. In fact, my dear friend, I have been driven to the very gates of death and a despair more dreadful than death, and I had not even one friend, out of my family, with whom to advise. What would I not have given for the kind pressure of your hand! It is only a few days since that I requested my mother in law, Mrs Clemm, to write to you — but she put it of from day to day.

I send you, as you request, the last sheet of the “Luciferian Revelation”. There are several other requests in your letters [page 2] which I know you would pardon me for not attending to if you only were aware of my illness, and how impossible it is for me to put my foot out of the house or indeed to help myself in any way. It is with the greatest difficulty that I write you this letter — as you may perceive, indeed, by the M.S. I have not been able to write one line for the Magazines for more than 5 months — you can then form some idea of the dreadful extremity to which 1 have been reduced. The articles lately published in “Godey’s Book” were written and paid for a long while ago.

Your professions of friendship I reciprocate from the inmost depths of my heart. Except yourself I have never met the man for whom I felt that intimate sympathy (of intellect as well as soul) which is the sole basis of friendship. Believe me that never, for one moment, have I doubted the sincerity of your wish to assist me. There is not one word you say that I do not see coming up from the depths of your heart.

There is one thing you will be glad to learn: — It has been a long while since any artificial stimulus has passed my lips. When I see you — should that day ever come — this is a topic on which I desire to have a long talk with you. I am done forever with drink — depend upon that — but there is much more in this matter than meets the eye.

Do not let anything in this letter impress you with the belief that I despair even of worldly prosperity. On the contrary although I feel ill, and am ground into the very dust with poverty, there is a sweet hope in the bottom of my soul.

I need not say to you that I rejoice in your success with the silk. I have always conceived it to be a speculation [page 3] full of promise if prudently conducted. The revulsion consequent upon the silk [page 327:] mania has, of course, induced the great majority of mankind to look unfavorably upon the business — but such feelings should have no influence with the philosophic. Be cautious and industrious — that is all.

I enclose you a slip from the “Reveilée”. You will be pleased to see how they appreciate me in England.

When you write, address simply “New-York-City”. There is no Post Office at Fordham.

God Bless You.

Ever Your friend,

Edgar A Poe

P.S. I have been looking over your “Luciferian Revelation” again. There are some points at which I might dissent with you — but there a 1000 glorious thoughts in [it.]

By October 1, 1845, Poe had left 195 East Broadway and gone to 85 Amity Street (see Letter 215). According to Quinn, Poe, p. 506, Poe later moved to Turtle Bay, now the foot of 47th Street, and then to Fordham, by May or June; thus Chivers’ letters may well have been delayed. Poe’s statement that he had not written “one line” for the magazines is hardly true; though a number of his compositions, printed in the first half of 1846, were probably written in 1845, it would seem that the “Literati” papers were prepared in 1846 (see Letter 227; see also Letter 241 where he says, regarding the “Godey series,” “I thought too little of the series myself to guard sufficiently against haste, inaccuracy, or prejudice”; also, see the “Editor’s Book Table,” Godey’s, June 1846, reprinted in H, XV, viii-ix: “Mr. Poe has been ill, but we have letters from him of very recent dates; also a new batch of the Literati” — a statement that, despite its obvious “editorial” purpose, does suggest the recency of the papers); of course, Poe may mean that he has not written any truly literary pieces. Chivers, besides being a poet, invented “a machine for unwinding the fibre from silk cocoons” (see W, II, 380). [CL 649]

240 ⇒ TO PHILIP P. COOKE [August 9, 1846] [CL 654]

New-York — August 9. 1846.

My Dear Sir,

Never think of excusing yourself (to me) for dilatoriness in answering letters — I know too well the unconquerable procrastination [page 328:] which besets the poet. I will place it all to the accounts of the turkeys. Were I to be seized by a rambling fit — one of my customary passions (nothing less) for vagabondizing through the woods for a week or a month together — I would not — in fact I could not be put out of my mood, were it even to answer a letter from the Grand Mogul, informing me that I had fallen heir to his possessions.

Thank you for the compliments. Were I in a serious humor just now, I would tell you[,] frankly, how your words of appreciation make my nerves thrill — not because you praise me (for others have praised me more lavishly) but because I feel that you comprehend and discriminate. You are right about the hair-splitting of my French friend: — that is all done for effect. These tales of ratiocination owe most of their popularity to being something in a new key. I do not mean to say that they are not ingenious — but people think them more ingenious than they are — on account of their method and air of method. In the “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, for instance, where is the ingenuity of unravelling a web which you yourself (the author) have woven for the express purpose of unravelling? The reader is made to confound the ingenuity of the sup- [page 2] posititious Dupin with that of the writer of the story.

Not for the world would I have had any one else to continue Lowell’s Memoir until I had heard from you. I wish you to do it (if you will be so kind) and nobody else. By the time the book appears you will be famous, (or all my prophecy goes for nothing) and I shall have the éclât of your name to aid my sales. But, seriously, I do not think that any one so well enters into the poetical portion of my mind as yourself — and I deduce this idea from my intense appreciation of those points of your own poetry which seem lost upon others.

Should you undertake the work for me, there is one topic — there is one particular in which I have had wrong done me — and it may not be indecorous in me to call your attention to it. The last selection of my Tales was made from about 70, by Wiley & Putnam’s reader, Duyckinck. He has what he thinks a taste for ratiocination, and has accordingly made up the book mostly of analytic stories. But this is not representing my mind in its various phases — it is not giving me fair play. In writing these Tales one by one, at long intervals, I have kept the book-unity always in mind — that is, each has been composed [page 329:] with reference to its effect as part of a whole. In this view, one of my chief aims has been the widest diversity of subject, thought, & especially tone & manner of handling. Were all my tales now before me in a large volume and as the composition of another — the merit which would principally arrest my attention would be the wide diversity and variety. You will be surprised to hear me say that (omitting one or two of my first efforts) I do not consider any one of [page 3] my stories better than another. There is a vast variety of kinds and, in degree of value, these kinds vary — but each tale is equally good of its kind. The loftiest kind is that of the highest imagination — and, for this reason only, “Ligeia” may be called my best tale. I have much improved this last since you saw it and I mail you a copy, as well as a copy of my best specimen of analysis — “The Philosophy of Composition.”

Do you ever see the British papers? Martin F. Tupper, author of “Proverbial Philosophy” has been paying me some high compliments — and indeed I have been treated more than well. There is one “British opinion”, however, which I value highly-Miss Barrett’s. She says: — “This vivid writing! — this power which is felt! The Raven has produced a sensation — ‘a fit horror’ here in England. Some of my friends are taken by the fear of it and some by the music. I hear of persons haunted by the ‘Nevermore’, and one acquaintance of mine who has the misfortune of possessing a ‘bust of Pallas’ never can bear to look at it in the twilight...  . Our great poet Mr Browning, author of Paracelsus etc is enthusiastic in his admiration of the rhythm...  . . Then there is a tale of his which I do not find in this volume, but which is going the rounds of the newspapers, about Mesmerism [The Valdemar Case] throwing us all into most admired disorder or dreadful doubts as to whether it can be true, as the children say of ghost stories. The certain thing in the tale in question is the power of the writer & the faculty he has of making horrible improbabilities seem near and familiar.” Would it be in bad taste to quote these words of Miss B. in your notice?

Forgive these egotisms (which are rendered in [page 4] some measure necessary by the topic) and believe me that I will let slip no opportunity of reciprocating your kindness.

Griswolds new edition I have not yet seen (is it out?) but I will manage to find “Rosalie Lee”. Do not forget to send me a few personal [page 330:] details of yourself — such as I give in “The N. Y. Literati”. When your book appears I propose to review it fully in Colton’s “American Review.” If you ever write to him, please suggest to him that I wish to do so. I hope to get your volume before mine goes to press — so that I may speak more fully.

I will forward the papers to which I refer, in a day or two — not by to-day’s mail.

Touching “The Stylus”: — this is the one great purpose of my literary life. Undoubtedly (unless I die) I will accomplish it — but I can afford to lose nothing by precipitancy. I cannot yet say when or how I shall get to work — but when the time comes I will write to you. I wish to establish a journal in which the men of genius may fight their battles; upon some terms of equality, with those dunces the men of talent. But, apart from this, I have magnificent objects in view — may I but live to accomplish them!

Most cordially Your friend

Edgar A. Poe.

The first sentence alludes to Cooke’s delay in answering Poe’s letter of April 16, 1846. Lowell’s critical “Memoir” appeared in Graham’s, February 1845; Cooke’s was published in the SLM, January 1848, and incorporated the comments of Elizabeth Barrett (reprinted in H, I, 383-392). “By the time the book appears ... ” must refer to Poe’s projected but uncompleted “Literary America” (the MS. of the title page and of three articles is now in the Huntington Library, for which, see Quinn, Poe, pp. 560-561). Evert A. Duyckinck chose the twelve tales that made up the Tales (1845), published by Wiley and Putnam; the selection omitted several of Poe’s best works, including “Ligeia,” which Cooke admired and criticized with understanding in his letter to Poe, September 16, 18 (see H, XVII, 49-51). In writing his Memoir of Poe, Griswold lifted the fourth paragraph of the present letter, stated that it was to himself, and in printing it made the second sentence read: “The last selection of my tales was made from about seventy by one of our great little cliquists and claqueurs, Wiley and Putnam’s reader, Duyckinck” (see H, XVII, 228). For more on Tupper, see Letter 233. Elizabeth Barrett’s “opinion” came not from a British paper but from her letter to Poe, April 1846 (see H, XVII, 229); Poe “edits” the passage to suit his purpose. Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America was first published in 1842 and went through many editions. Cooke’s Froissart Ballads and Other Poems was published in 1847, three years before his death (see the Dictionary of American Biography, IV, 388-389). Apparently Poe did not review it. [CL 654] [page 331:]

241 ⇒ TO GEORGE W. EVELETH [December 15, 1846] [CL 660]

New-York : Dec. 15 / 46.

My Dear Sir,

By way of beginning this letter let me say a word or two of apology for not having sooner replied to your letters of June 9 and Oct. 13. For more than six months I have been ill — for the greater part of that time dangerously so, and quite unable to write even an ordinary letter. My Magazine papers appearing in this interval were all in the publishers’ hands before I was taken sick. Since getting better, I have been, as a matter of course, overwhelmed with the business accumulating during my illness.

It always gives me true pleasure to hear from you, and I wish you could spare time to write me more frequently. I am gratified by your good opinion of my writings, because what you say evinces the keenest discrimination. Ten times the praise you bestow on me would not please me half so much, were it not for the intermingled scraps of censure, or [of] objection, which show me that you well know what you are talking about.

Let me now advert to the points of your two last letters:

What you say about the blundering criticism of “the Hartford Review man” is just. For the purposes of poetry it is quite sufficient that a thing is possible-or at least that the improbability be not offensively glaring. It is true that in several ways, as you say, the lamp might have thrown the bird’s shadow on the floor. My conception was that of the bracket candelabrum affixed against the wall, high up above the door and bust — as is often seen in the English palaces, and even in some of the better houses in New-York.

Your objection to the tinkling of the footfalls is far more pointed, and in the course of composition occurred so forcibly to myself that I hesitated to use the term. I finally used it because I saw that it had, in its first conception, been suggested to my mind by the sense of the supernatural with which it was, at the moment, filled. No human or physical foot could tinkle on a soft carpet — therefore the tinkling of feet would vividly convey the supernatural impression. This was the idea, and it is good within it- [page 2] self: — but if it fails (as I fear it does) to make itself immediately and generally felt according to my intention — then in so much is it badly con[v]eyed, or [page 332:] expressed. Your appreciation of “The Sleeper” delights me. In the higher qualities of poetry, it is better than “The Raven” — but there is not one man in a million who could be brought to agree with me in this opinion. The Raven, of course, is far the better as a work of art — but in the true basis of all art The Sleeper is the superior. I wrote the latter when quite a boy.

You quote, I think, the 2 best lines in “The Valley of Unrest” — those about the palpitating trees. There is no more of “Politian”. It may be some years before I publish the rest of my Tales, essays &c. The publishers cheat — and I must wait till I can be my own publisher. The collection of tales issued by W. & P. were selected by a gentleman whose taste does not coincide with my own, from 72, written by me at various times — and those chosen are not my best — nor do they fairly represent me in any respect.

The critique on Rogers is not mine — although, when it appeared, I observed a similarity to my ordinary manner. The notice of Lowell’s “Brittany” is mine. You will see that it was merely a preparatory notice — I had designed speaking in full — but something prevented me. The criticism on Shelley is not mine; it is the work of Parke Godwin. I never saw it. The critic alluded to by Willis as connected with the Mirror, and as having found a parallel between Hood & Aldrich is myself. See my reply to “Outis” in the early numbers of the Broadway Journal. My reference to L. G. Clark, in spirit but not in letter, is what you suppose. He abused me in his criticism — but so feebly — with such a parade of intention & effort, but with so little effect or power, that I — forgave him: — that is to say, I had little difficulty in pardoning him. His strong point was that I ought to write well because I had asserted that others wrote ill — and that I didn’t write well because, although there had been a great deal of fuss made about me, I had written so little — only a small volume of 100 pages. Why he had written more himself!

You will see that I have discontinued the “Literati” in Godey’s Mag. I was forced to do so, because I found that people insisted on considering them elaborate criticisms when I had no other design than critical gossip. The unexpected circulation of the series, also, suggested to me that I might make a hit and some profit, as well as proper fame, by extending [page 3] the plan into that of a book on American Letters generally, and keeping the publication in my own hands. I am now at this — body & soul. I intend to be thorough — as far [page 333:] as I can — to examine analytically, without reference to previous opinions by anybody - all the salient points of Literature in general — e.g Poetry, The Drama, Criticism, Historical Writing — Versification etc. etc. You may get an idea of the manner in which I propose to write the whole book, by reading the notice of Hawthorne which will appear in the January “Godey”, as well as the article on “The Rationale of Verse” which will be out in the March or April no: of Colton’s Am. Magazine, or Review.

Do not trust, in making up your library, to the “opinions” in the Godey series. I meant “honest” — but my meaning is not as fully made out as I could wish. I thought too little of the series myself to guard sufficiently against haste, inaccuracy, or prejudice. The book will be true — according to the best of my abilities. As regards Dana — it is more than possible that I may be doing him wrong. I have [not] read him since I was a boy, & must read him carefully again. The Frogpondians (Bostonians) have badgered me so much that I fear I am apt to fall into prejudices about them. I have used some of their Pundits up, at all events, in “The Rationale of Verse”. I will mail you the number as soon as it appears — for I really wish you to tell me what you think of it.

As regards the Stylus — that is the grand purpose of my life, from which I have never swerved for a moment. But I cannot afford to risk anything by precipitancy — and I can afford to wait — at least until I finish the book. When that is out, I will start the Mag. — and then I will pay you a visit at Phillips. In the meantime let me thank you, heartily, for your name as a subscriber.

Please write — and do not pay the postage.

Truly Your Friend

Edgar A Poe

Concerning Poe’s inactivity owing to his illness, see Letter 239 and note; see also the letters he wrote during the same period. In connection with the second paragraph, see H, XVII, 347, and in the present edition Letter 317. “The Hartford Review man” refers to Rufus White Griswold (not Poe’s biographer, Rufus Wilmot Griswold), who reviewed 7”The Raven” (see American Literature, VI (March 1934), 69-72). “The Sleeper” first appeared in Poems (1831), as “Irene.” Poe’s poetic drama, “Politian,” was never acted professionally, but parts were printed in the Southern Literary Messenger, December 1835, and January 18 (see PE (reprint), p. 9; Quinn, Poe, pp. 231-234; and Thomas Ollive [page 334:] Mabbott’s edition of “Politian”). Evert Duyckinck selected the Tales, published by Wiley and Putnam (1845). Poe reviewed Lowell’s Poems (including “Brittany”) in Graham’s, March 1844 (reprinted in H, XI, 243-249) — Poe’s “Reply to Outis” appeared in the Broadway Journal, March 8, 15, 22, 29, and April 5, 184 5 (reprinted in H, XII, 41-106). For Lewis Gaylord Clark, see “Literati,” Godey’s, September 1846 (reprinted in H, XV, 114-116). The “Literati” series ran from May through October 1846. For Poe’s “book,” see the note to Letter 740. For the “Hawthorne” and “The Rationale of Verse,” see Letter 259. For Richard H. Dana, see Poe’s “Autography” (H, XV, 224). [CL 660]

242 ⇒ TO EVERT A. DUYCKINCK [December 24, 1846] [CL 662]

Fordham — Dec. 24. 46.

Dear Duyckinck,

You remember showing me about a year ago, at your house, some English stanzas — by a lady I think — from the rhythm of which Longfellow had imitated the rhythm of the Proem to his “Waif.” I wish very much to see the poem — do you think you could loan me the book, or (which will answer as well) give me the title of the book in full, and copy me the 2 first stanzas? I will be greatly obliged if you can.

I am much in need, also, of Gilfillan’s “Sketches of Modern Literature” — 2 vols — published by Appleton. If you could loan me the work (or the vol. containing the sketch of Emerson) I would take it as a great favor.

I am taking great care of your Irving & Arcturus — but, unless you need them, I should like to keep them some time longer — as I have to make constant reference to them.

Truly yours

E A Poe

This is the first of Poe’s known letters to be headed “Fordham.” Apparently Poe made no specific use of the stanzas “Longfellow had imitated,” if Duyckinck supplied them. Poe had reviewed George Gilfillan’s Sketches of Modern Literature and Eminent Literary Men (Appleton’s Literary Miscellany, Nos. 6 and 7) in the Broadway Journal, December 27, 18 (see P, II, 1197). Poe was possibly gathering material for his projected “Literary America” when he asked for the volumes (see Letter 240 and note). For Arcturus, see the note to Letter 201. [CL 662] [page 335:]

243 ⇒ TO WILLIAM D. TICKNOR [December 24, 1846] [CL 663]

New-York : Dec. 24, 46.

Wm. D. Ticknor Esqr

Dr Sir,

I am engaged on a work which I will probably call “Literary America,” and in which I propose to make a general and yet a minute survey of our Letters. I wish, of course, to speak of Oliver Wendell Holmes, and as I can say nothing of him to which you, as his publisher, could object, I venture to ask you for a copy of his Poems, and any memoranda, literary or personal, which may serve my purpose, and which you may have it in your power to supply. If you could procure me his autograph, also, I would be greatly obliged to you.

You will of course understand that I should not feel justified in asking these favors, unless I thought, as all men do, very highly of Mr Holmes.

Please send anything for me, to the care of Freeman Hunt Esq, Merchants’ Magazine Office, N. York.

Very truly and respectfully Yours

Edgar A Poe.

“Literary America,” never completed or published, exists today in MS. in the Huntington Library, and consists of three articles, of the “Literati” variety, on Richard Adams Locke, Christopher Pearse Cranch, and “Thomas Dunn Brown [English].” Griswold in publishing the “Literati” substituted the article on “Thomas Dunn Brown” for Poe’s earlier article on English in Godey’s, XXXIII (July 1846), 17-18. Harrison (XVII, 389-390) prints a letter from Holmes to J[ames] T[homas] Fields, which implies a letter from Poe to Fields; Poe’s letter to Ticknor is probably the one meant. The firm of William D. Ticknor & Company, publishers, was located at 135 Washington Street, Boston, and was known as the Old Corner Bookstore (Dictionary of American Biography, XVIII, 528-529); the company was known as Ticknor, Reed, and Fields from 1849-1854. Poe, therefore, probably wrote his request to the senior partner, and Fields wrote to Holmes. (The MS. letter of Holmes to Fields, once in the Griswold collection, according to Harrison, is not now in the Boston Public Library with the present Griswold items.) [CL 663] [page 336:]

244 ⇒ TO EVERT A. DUYCKINCK [December 30, 1846] [CL 664]

[New York] Dec. 30. 46.

Dear Duyckinck,

Mrs Clemm mentioned to me, this morning, that some of the Parisian papers had been speaking about my “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. She could not give me the details — merely saying that you had told her. The “Murders in the R. M.” was spoken of in the Paris “Charivari”, soon after the first issue of the tale in Graham’s Mag: — April 1841. By the enclosed letter from Stonehaven Scotland, you will see that the “Valdemar Case” still makes a talk, and that a pamphlet edition of it has been published by Short & co. of London under the title of “Mesmerism in Articulo Mortis.” It has fairly gone the rounds of the London Press, commencing with “The Morning Post”. The “Monthly Record of Science” &c gives it with the title “The Last Days of M. Valdemar. By the author of the Last Conversation of a Somnambule” — (Mesmeric Revelation).

My object in enclosing the Scotch letter and the one from Miss Barrett, is to ask you to do me a favor which (just at this moment) may be of great importance. It is, to make a paragraph or two for some one of the city papers, stating the facts here given, in connexion with what you know about the “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. If this will not give you too much trouble, I will be deeply obliged. If you think it advisable, there is no objection to your copying any portion of Miss B’s letter. Willis or Morris will put in anything you may be kind enough to write; but as “The Home Journal” has already said a good deal about me, some other paper would be preferable.

Truly yours


Poe was probably wrong in his reference to the Charivari (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 516-517). The letter from Stonehaven was from Arch Ramsay, November 30, 1846 (see Letter 245). “Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (titles varied in subsequent printings) was first published in December 1845 (see Letter 245) ; it was reprinted in the London Morning Post, January 5, 1846, and in the Popular Record of Modern Science, January 10 (see Thomas O. Mabbott, Notes and Queries, CLXXXIII (November 21, 1942), 311-312). Miss Elizabeth Barrett’s [page 337:] letter was that of April 1846 (see H, XVII, 229-230). Nathaniel Parker Willis and George Pope Morris had edited the New York Evening Mirror; Willis left it to found the Home Journal, in February 1846 (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 366, 808), Morris later joining him, when the Mirror died in the same year. If Duyckinck wrote the paragraph, it is unlocated. [CL 664]

245 ⇒ TO ARCH RAMSAY [December 30, 1846] [CL 665]

’New York December 30. 46.

Dr Sir,

“Hoax” is precisely the word suited to M. Valdemar’s case. The story appeared originally in “The American Review”, a Monthly Magazine, published in this city. The London papers, commencing with the “Morning Post” and the “Popular Record of Science”, took up the theme. The article was generally copied in England and is now circulating in France. Some few persons believe it — but I do not — and don’t you.

Very Respy

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

P.S, I have some relations, I think, in Stonehaven, of the name of Allan, who again are connected with the Allans and Galts of Kilmarnock. My name is Edgar Allan Poe. Do you know any of them. If so, and it would not put you to too much trouble, I would take it as a favor if you could give me some account of the family.

To A. Ramsay Esqr

“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” first appeared as “Facts of M. Valdemar’s Case” in the American Review, II (December 1845), 561-565; in 1846 it appeared in London as “Case of M. Valdemar” in the Popular Record of Modern Science, also in a 16-page pamphlet entitled “Mesmerism ‘In Articulo Mortis’” (see Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, p. 326; also the letter of Ramsay to Poe, April 14, 1847, in H, XVII, 284-285). Ramsay was a druggist, according to his own signature in the April letter just cited; he also tells Poe he has not been able to learn anything concerning the particular Allan family mentioned in the postscript, above. [CL 665] [page 338:]

246 ⇒ TO NATHANIEL P. WILLIS [December 30, 1846] [CL 666]

[New York] December 30th, 1846.

My Dear Willis: —

The paragraph which has been put in circulation respecting my wife’s illness, my own, my poverty etc., is now lying before me; together with the beautiful lines by Mrs. Locke and those by Mrs. —— , to which the paragraph has given rise, as well as your kind and manly comments in “The Home Journal.”

The motive of the paragraph I leave to the conscience of him or her who wrote it or suggested it. Since the thing is done, however, and since the concerns of my family are thus pitilessly thrust before the public, I perceive no mode of escape from a public statement of what is true and what erroneous in the report alluded to.

That my wife is ill, then, is true; and you may imagine with what feeling I add that this illness, hopeless from the first, has been heightened and precipitated by her reception, at two different periods, of anonymous letters — one enclosing the paragraph now in question; the other, those published calumnies of Messrs —— , for which I yet hope to find redress in a court of justice.

Of the facts, that I myself have been long and dangerously ill, and that my illness has been a well understood thing among my brethren of the press, the best evidence is afforded by the innumerable paragraphs of personal and literary abuse with which I have been latterly assailed. This matter, however, will remedy itself. At the very first blush of my new prosperity, the gentlemen who toadied me in the old, will recollect themselves and toady me again. You, who know me, will comprehend that I speak of these things only as having served, in a measure, to lighten the gloom of unhappiness, by a gentle and not unpleasant sentiment of mingled pity, merriment and contempt.

That, as the inevitable consequence of so long an illness, I have been in want of money, it would be folly in me to deny — but that I have ever materially suffered from privation, beyond the extent of my capacity for suffering, is not altogether true. That I am “without friends” is a gross calumny, which I am sure you never could have believed, and which a thousand noble-hearted men would have good [page 339:] right never to forgive me for permitting to pass unnoticed and undenied. Even in the city of New York I could have no difficulty in naming a hundred persons, to each of whom-when the hour for speaking had arrived — I could and would have applied for aid and with unbounded confidence, and with absolutely no sense of humiliation.

I do not think, my dear Willis, that there is any need of my saying more. I am getting better, and may add — if it be any comfort to my enemies — that I have little fear of getting worse. The truth is, I have a great deal to do; and I have made up my mind not to die till it is done.

Sincerely yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

The “paragraph” that Poe refers to appeared in the New York Morning Express, December 15, 1846 (page 2, col. 1):

ILLNESS OF EDGAR A. POE. — We regret to learn that this gentleman and his wife are both dangerously ill with the consumption, and that the hand of misfortune lies heavy upon their temporal affairs. We are sorry to mention the fact that they are so far reduced as to be barely able to obtain the necessaries of life. That is, indeed, a hard lot, and we do hope that the friends and admirers of Mr. Poe will come promptly to his assistance in his bitterest hour of need. Mr. Poe is the author of several tales and poems, of which Messrs. Wiley & Putnam are the publishers, and, as it is believed, the profitable publishers. At least, his friends say that the publishers ought to start a movement in his behalf.

For the “beautiful lines” by Mrs. Jane Locke, see Letter 251 and note. “Mrs. —— “ is unidentified, but probably does not refer to Mrs. Hewitt (see H, XVII, 272-273, n.). “Messrs —— “ probably refers to Thomas Dunn English and Hiram Fuller (see the note to Letter 238). [CL 666]

247 ⇒ TO CHARLES A. BRISTED [January 17, 1847] [CL 667]

Fordham — Jan. 17 — 47.

Dear Sir,

Permit me to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the ten dollars which you were so considerate and generous as so send me [page 340:] through Mr. Colton. I shall now cease to regard my difficulties as misfortune, since they have shown me that I possessed such friends. With the most sincere gratitude and esteem,

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe.

To Charles A Bristed Esqr

Concerning Bristed, see the note to Letter 269. The gift of ten dollars may have been prompted by the general publicity in the press and among Poe’s friends concerning the poor health of both Poe and Virginia (see Letter 246 and note). George H. Colton was the editor of The American Review. [CL 667]

248 ⇒ TO MARIE L. SHEW [January 29, 1847] [CL 670]

Kindest — dearest friend — My poor Virginia still lives, although failing fast and now suffering much pain. May God grant her life until she sees you and thanks you once again! Her bosom is full to overflowing — like my own — with a boundless — inexpressible gratitude to you. Lest she may never see you more — she bids me say that she sends you her sweetest kiss of love and will die blessing you[.] But come — oh come to-morrow! Yes, I will be calm — everything you so nobly wish to see me. My mother sends you, also, her “warmest love and thanks”[.] She begs me to ask you, if possible, to make arrangements at home so that you may stay with us tomorrow night. I enclose the order to the Postmaster.

Heaven bless you and farewell

Edgar A Poe.


Jan. 29. 47.

Concerning this letter, Mrs. Shew wrote to Ingram, February 16 [1875] (original MS. in the Ingram collection, University of Virginia): “I had told him in all candor that nothing would or could save him from a sudden death, but a prudent life, of calm, with a woman fond enough — and strong enough to manage his work ... ” However, only the part about being calm would have been written before Virginia’s death. This is the first known letter in the Poe-Shew correspondence. Mrs. Shew later became Mrs. Roland Houghton and corresponded extensively with Ingram while he was preparing his biography of Poe. Virginia died January 30, 1847. [CL 670]




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 VIII)