Text: Dwight R. Thomas and David K. Jackson, “Chapter 07 [Part 01],” The Poe Log (1987), pp. 393-446


[page 393:]


“The Gold-Bug” and “The Balloon-Hoax”

James Russell Lowell [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 392]
James Russell Lowell


At the beginning of 1843 Poe reaches agreement with Thomas C. Clarke, a Philadelphia publisher, to issue his long-planned monthly journal, its proposed title now changed from the Penn Magazine to the Stylus. The 25 February issue of the Saturday Museum, Clarke’s weekly newspaper, contains a biographical sketch of Poe accompanied by his portrait and copious extracts from his poetry; the article is reprinted in the 4 March issue. During the first week of March the United States Senate confirms Calvin Blythe as Collector of Customs in Philadelphia, to succeed Thomas S. Smith. On 8 March Poe hastily leaves for Washington in hopes of obtaining one of the Custom House appointments that Blythe will make. His visit is brought to an abrupt end by his excessive drinking, which alarms his friends Frederick William Thomas and Jesse E. Dow; the promised appointment never materializes. Around April the Poe family moves to a small house on North Seventh Street, in the Spring Garden district of Philadelphia. In May Clarke withdraws from the Stylus because of the financial difficulties besetting his Saturday Museum. Poe’s fortunes improve in the following month, when “The Gold-Bug” receives the $100 first prize in a contest conducted by the Dollar Newspaper. The tale is immediately popular, being reprinted three times by the Dollar Newspaper and subsequently being dramatized at the Walnut Street Theatre. In July the magazine agent William H. Graham issues The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe, a pamphlet containing “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Man that was Used Up.” In spite of the success of “The Gold-Bug” and the Prose Romances, Poe remains impoverished; on 13 September he is forced to write James Russell Lowell and request payment for his contributions to the defunct Pioneer. On 21 November Poe embarks on a new career, delivering his lecture on “American Poetry” before the William Wirt Institute. He later addresses audiences in Wilmington and Newark, Delaware, in Baltimore, and in Reading, Pennsylvania. The lecture is repeated in Philadelphia on 10 January 1844. On 6 April Poe and his wife Virginia move to New York City. A week later his “Balloon-Hoax,” published anonymously in the Sun, temporarily fools New Yorkers into believing that the Atlantic has been crossed by voyagers in a balloon. During May and June Poe furnishes the New York correspondence, “Doings of Gotham,” for [page 394:] the Columbia Spy, a weekly newspaper in Columbia, Pennsylvania. In October he finds employment as an assistant to Nathaniel P. Willis, editor of the Evening Mirror.



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~~ 1843 ~~

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[page 393, continued:]

[1843] JANUARY. BOSTON. The first number of the Pioneer contains Poe’s story “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

[1843] JANUARY. PHILADELPHIA. Graham’s Magazine contains Poe’s poem “The Conqueror Worm.”

[1843] EARLY JANUARY? Poe enlists Thomas C. Clarke, Publisher of the Saturday Museum, as his partner in issuing his long-planned magazine, now entitled the Stylus and scheduled to appear on 1 July (31 January contract; Poe to Thomas, 25 February).

[1843] EARLY JANUARY? Poe reviews the Pioneer in Clarke’s Museum:

In these days of self-bepuffed and glorified magazines, it is positively refreshing to look upon a publication that comes to us modestly, promising nothing, but wearing on its face the stamp of intrinsic merit. We hail the PIONEER as the first in the great work of reform. But how could it be otherwise, edited as it is by a man whose genius and originality is at once the praise and wonder of his countrymen. We mean JAMES RUSSEL[L] LOWELL. . . .

The contributors are J. Russell Lowell, (“a man of men!”)[,] Edgar Allan Poe, John Neal, who contributes an excellent article on Aaron Burr, with others whose names are known and respected by all true lovers of sound literature. The Reviews are good and just, with the sole exception of one, on Matthews’ [sic] “Puffer Hopkins,” a qualified puff when it should have been an unqualified condemnation: “Puffer Hopkins” being one of the most trashy novels that ever emanated from an American press (notice reprinted on inside back cover of February Pioneer).

[1843] EARLY JANUARY? Poe writes Frederick William Thomas in Washington, forwarding memoranda of his life. Poe will appear in the Saturday Museum’s forthcoming series entitled “The Poets & Poetry of Philadelphia,” which will feature biographical sketches of the city’s poets as well as excerpts from their poetry. He asks Thomas to write his biography for the series (Thomas’ 1 February reply). [page 395:]

[1843] 6 JANUARY. The United States Gazette reprints “The Tell-Tale Heart” from the Pioneer.

[1843] 7 JANUARY. NEW YORK. Nathaniel P. Willis notices the Pioneer in the Brother Jonathan:

J. R. Lowell, a man of original and decided genius has started a monthly magazine in Boston. The first number lies before us, and it justifies our expectation, viz.: — that a man of genius, who is merely a man of genius, is a very unfit editor of a periodical. . . . In the first No. of the Pioneer are half a dozen articles which will fall still-born under the notice of the nineteen in twenty of the readers who pay for what they read, yet they are articles of a very refined and elevated character and will do the magazine credit with here and there a man of very refined taste — for example Mr. Dwight’s article on Beethoven’s Symphonies and Mr. Lowell’s own paper on the “Plays of Middleton.” Mr. Poe’s contribution is very wild and very readable, and that is the only thing in the number that most people would read and remember.

[1843] 13 JANUARY. Horace Greeley reviews the Pioneer in the Daily Tribune: “Poe contributes a strong and skilful, but to our minds overstrained and repulsive, analysis of the feelings and promptings of an insane homicide. The painting of the terror of the victim while he sat upright in his bed feeling that death was near him is most powerful and fearfully vivid.”

[1843] 19 JANUARY. RICHMOND. Thomas Willis White, the proprietor of the Southern Literary Messenger, dies after a long illness.

[1843] 23 JANUARY. PHILADELPHIA. The Pennsylvania Inquirer and other papers report White’s death.

[1843] 25 JANUARY. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is reprinted in the first number of the Dollar Newspaper, an oversize weekly published by A. H. Simmons & Co.

[1843] 28 JANUARY. The Saturday Museum contains Henry B. Hirst’s blistering review of the third edition of Rufus W. Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America.

[Harrison reprinted this review in his Poe edition (W, 11:220-43); but it is unquestionably by Hirst, Poe’s admirer and companion who repeated many of his opinions. See Thomas (1978), pp. 495-98.]

[1843] 31 JANUARY. An agreement is reached “between Felix O. C. Darley, on the one hand and Thomas C. Clarke with Edgar A. Poe on the other.” Darley, [page 396:] a young Philadelphia artist, “agrees to furnish original designs, or drawings (on wood or paper as required) of his own composition, in his best manner, and from subjects supplied him by Mess: Clarke and Poe; the said designs to be employed in illustration of the Magazine entitled ‘The Stylus’ . . . . Mess: Clarke and Poe agree to demand of Mr Darley not more than five of these designs in any one month . . . . And, for each design so furnished, Mess: Clarke and Poe agree to pay the said Darley the sum of Seven Dollars ($7).” The contract, in Poe’s hand, bears the signatures of the principals as well as two witnesses, Henry B. Hirst and W. D. Riebsam (facsimile in Gill, after p. 118).

[1843] LATE JANUARY. Poe writes Thomas in Washington. He imagines that Thomas has postponed correspondence while waiting for the United States Senate to act on Thomas S. Smith’s nomination as Collector of Customs in Philadelphia. Poe asks whether Thomas will be able to write the biographical sketch he requested several weeks ago; if not, he should return the memoranda, as Poe’s biography and poems are scheduled for early publication in the Saturday Museum. Although Hirst wrote the review of Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America in the 28 January Museum, Poe emphasizes that he was responsible for the portion condemning the anthologer’s treatment of Thomas and Robert Tyler (Thomas’ 1 February reply).

[Poe and Thomas were hoping that the Senate would reject Smith’s nomination and that the Tyler administration would then replace him with a new Collector, who might be more willing to appoint Poe to a position in the Custom House.]

[1843] BEFORE FEBRUARY? Poe sits for a daguerreotype; apparently it is used in making the engraved portrait which is to accompany his biography in the Museum (“McKee” daguerreotype discussed by George E. Woodberry, Century Magazine, NS 26 [1894]: 725, 854; information supplied by Michael J. Deas, from his forthcoming book on Poe portraiture).

[1843] FEBRUARY. NEW YORK. Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion contains the third and final installment of Poe’s “Mystery of Marie Rogêt.”

[1843] FEBRUARY. BOSTON. The Pioneer contains Poe’s poem “Lenore” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s humorous sketch of his contemporaries, “The Hall of Fantasy.” Hawthorne describes Poe’s standing among American literati: “Mr. Poe had gained ready admittance [into the Hall of Fantasy] for the sake of his imagination, but was threatened with ejectment, as belonging to the obnoxious class of critics.”

[1843] 1 FEBRUARY. WASHINGTON. Thomas replies to Poe: [page 397:]

You judged rightly I did not write to you waiting “for some definite action of Congress on Smith’s case.” I feel most anxious in the matter for you, my friend.

About the biography. I duly received your notes, and determined at the earliest hour to take it in hand. Congress is now, you know, in session, and my labors at the department are treble while it continues. Thrice I have set myself about writing out the notes and thrice I have been taken off. It would be a labor of love with me, Poe, as you know, and let who will do it now some of these days I will do it better unless they do it damned well. I could not do it until Congress adjourns, and not speedily then — I am so much occupied. Therefore [I] think it best to send you the MS. as you request, but I do it with regret. . . .

Yes, I saw the “Saturday’s Museum” in Mr. Robert Tyler’s room, and happened to light upon the article in which we are mentioned. I read that portion of it to him and shall take care that he is not misinformed on the subject. I remember Mr. Hirst (W, 17:128-29).

[1843] 4 FEBRUARY. PHILADELPHIA. Poe writes Lowell, thanking him for forwarding the Pioneer:

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 [John] 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 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 America.” At the same time, while I thought and still think highly of Mr Bryant, Mr Cooper, and others, I said nothing of them.

Poe received $10 on Lowell’s account from George R. Graham: “I would prefer, however, that you would remit directly to myself through the P. Office.” About two weeks ago he sent his “Notes Upon English Verse” to Lowell by Harnden’s Express Company; if the article proves “too long, or perhaps too dull,” for the Pioneer, he will be glad to “send something in its place” (L, 1:221-23).

[1843] 11 FEBRUARY. BALTIMORE. Joseph Evans Snodgrass reviews the Ladies’ Companion in the Saturday Visiter: “Mr. Poe’s ‘Mystery of Marie Roget,’ founded on the murder of Mary Rogers, is concluded — and will add to his reputation for a sui generis play of imagination with an exercise of rare powers of analysis.”

[1843] BEFORE 16 FEBRUARY. BOSTON. Robert Carter, Lowell’s partner on the Pioneer, writes Poe. Lowell is suffering from a serious eye ailment and has [page 398:] gone to New York for treatment; Carter will edit the magazine in his absence (Poe’s reply).

[1843] 16 FEBRUARY. PHILADELPHIA. Poe writes Carter: “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.” Poe transcribes his poem “Eulalie” for the fourth number of the Pioneer (L, 1:223).

[1843] CA. 18 FEBRUARY. Poe writes his friend Thomas Wyatt, now in Washington, enclosing a letter of introduction to Thomas (Poe to Thomas, 25 February).

[1843] BEFORE 22 FEBRUARY. Graham’s Magazine for March contains Poe’s “Our Amateur Poets, No. I.— Flaccus.” He demolishes the poetic claims of Thomas Ward, a wealthy New Yorker who contributes to the Knickerbocker Magazine under the pseudonym “Flaccus.”

[1843] 22 FEBRUARY. John S. Du Solle reviews Graham’s in the Spirit of the Times: “Poe’s review of ‘Flaccus’ is really exquisite.”

Biography of Edgar Allan Poe in Philadelphia Saturday Museum, February 25, 1843 [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 400]
Poe’s biography in the Saturday Museum, 25 February

[1843] BEFORE 24 FEBRUARY. The Saturday Museum for 25 February contains “The Poets & Poetry of Philadelphia, No. II: Edgar Allan Poe.” The article, apparently prepared by Poe in collaboration with Hirst, occupies the entire front page. It consists of a lengthy, often inaccurate biographical sketch accompanied by laudatory opinions on Poe’s writings excerpted from newspapers and magazines, and from letters he received. The following poems, most of them revised, are reprinted: “To Helen,” portions of “Al Aaraaf,” “Sonnet — To Science,” “Romance;” “To the River ——,” “The Conqueror Worm,” “Lenore,” “Sonnet to Zante;” “The Sleeper,” “To One in Paradise” (formerly “To Ianthe in Heaven”), “Sonnet — Silence,” “Israfel,” “Song of the Newly-Wedded” (formerly “Ballad”), “To One Departed,” “The Coliseum,” and “The Haunted Palace.”

On its fourth page the Museum carries a prospectus for the Stylus, written by Poe and signed “CLARKE & POE”:

The Prospectus of a Monthly Journal to have been called “THE PENN MAGAZINE,” has already been partially circulated. Circumstances, in which the public have no interest, induced a suspension of the project, which is now, under the best auspices, resumed, with no other modification than that of the title. “The Penn Magazine;” it has been thought, was a name somewhat too local in its suggestions . . . .

“The Stylus” will include about one hundred royal octavo pages, in single [page 399:] column, per month; forming two thick volumes per year. . . . Engravings, when used, will be in the highest style of Art, but are promised only in obvious illustration of the text, and in strict keeping with the Magazine character. . . . As, for many reasons, it is inexpedient to commence a journal of this kind at any other period than the beginning or middle of the year, the first number of “The Stylus” will not be regularly issued until the first of July, 1843. . . . The price will be Five Dollars per annum, or Three Dollars per single volume, in advance. Letters which concern only the Editorial management may be addressed to Edgar A. Poe, individually; all others to Clarke & Poe.

[1843] 24 FEBRUARY. In the Spirit of the Times Du Solle comments: “The Saturday Museum of this week contains a very fair likeness of our friend Edgar A. Poe, Esq., with a full account of his truly eventful life. We look upon Mr. Poe as one of the most powerful, chaste, and erudite writers of the day, and it gives us pleasure to see him placed, through the public spirit of our neighbor of the Museum, in his proper position before the world.” The Daily Chronicle, Pennsylvania Inquirer, and United States Gazette also praise the Museum’s article on Poe.

[1843] 25 FEBRUARY. The Pennsylvanian reports: “ ‘THE PHILADELPHIA SATURDAY MUSEUM’ of to-day . . . contains the second of a series of articles on ‘The Poets and Poetry of Philadelphia,’ giving a sketch of the life and writings of Edgar Allan Poe, accompanied by a portrait.”

[1843] 25 FEBRUARY. Poe writes Thomas in Washington:

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. [Henry B.] Hirst, of this city. 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 . . . .

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.

Poe asks Thomas to furnish an article for his opening number and to solicit contributions from Robert Tyler and Judge Abel Parker Upshur, the new Secretary of the Navy. “About a week since I enclosed an introductory [page 401:] letter to yourself in one to a friend of mine (Professor Wyatt) now in Washington. I presume you have seen him” (L, 1:223-25).

[1843] 25 FEBRUARY. NEW YORK. James Kirke Paulding writes Rufus W. Griswold, editor of Graham’s Magazine:

I observe in your last number the commencement of what seems to be a series of numbers, on our American Poets. A critical analysis of our Poetry, given with proper judgement, taste, and temper would be not only interesting but useful; and Mr. Poe has I Know both the two first, but certainly has not given a good sample of the last in his notice of Mr Ward. I Know nothing of that Gentleman, but have read his little collection, and am of opinion it does not merit the — I will not dignify them with the honors of severity — but the scurrilous strictures bestowed on them by Mr. Poe. Such articles will do no credit to your Magazine, and make many deadly enemies, among a race proverbial for their irritability. If he continues this Series, I would advise you to “Restrain and aggravate his choler,” as Nic Bottom says — or he will bring a Nest of Hornets about your Ears. Let Mr. Poe proceed coolly, impartially & dispassionately, and I am of opinion there are few, if any, writers among us more capable of doing justice to the subject. I have formerly seen some criticisms of his on poetical productions, equally distinguished by profound analysis, and cultivated Taste (PHi; Paulding, pp. 329-30).

[1843] BEFORE MARCH? PHILADELPHIA. Poe writes a member of the Mackenzie family in Richmond, probably John Mackenzie. He asks his correspondent to determine whether the “subscription list” of the Southern Literary Messenger is for sale: “A capitalist of this place [Clarke] 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 . . . . Virginia is nearly recovered — indeed I may say quite so — with the exception of a slight cough . . . . Tell Rose [Rosalie Poe] I hope to see her before long, and that I will write her soon” (manuscript fragment in TxU-HRCL).

[The letter was mutilated in such a way that the date and the correspondent’s first name were removed. Ostrom reconstructed the name as “[Willia]m Mackenzie” (L, 1:233); a more plausible reading would be “[Joh]n Mackenzie.” The elder William Mackenzie died on 7 June 1829; William Leslie Mackenzie, one of his sons, died on 5 June 1834 (Mackenzie Family Bible, ViHi).]

[1843] BEFORE MARCH? RICHMOND. Thomas Mackenzie, one of John Mackenzie’s younger brothers, writes Poe that the heirs of Thomas Willis White have not yet decided upon a disposition for the Messenger (Poe to Thomas Mackenzie, 22 April).

[1843] MARCH. BOSTON. The Pioneer ceases publication because of financial difficulties; [page 402:] the third and final number contains Poe’s “Notes Upon English Verse.”

[1843] 1 MARCH. JACKSON, TENNESSEE. John Tomlin writes Poe: “Since the death of Mr. White of the ‘Literary Messenger,’ I have often thought if you would take charge of it, what a great Journal it would become, under your conduct and supervision. With you at the head of the ‘Messenger,’ and Simms of the ‘Magnolia’ (my two most valued friends), we of the South would then have a pride in talking about our Periodical Literature” (W, 17:133).

[1843] BEFORE 3 MARCH. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Museum for 4 March features Poe’s biography and poems on its first page, reprinted from the 25 February issue. Poe’s prospectus for the Stylus appears on the third page. On the second page Thomas C. Clarke quotes Du Solle’s report from the 24 February Spirit of the Times, commenting:

We are glad to hear so good a paper as the Times speak thus highly of Mr. Poe, not only from the justice which it renders that powerful writer, but because we have been so fortunate as to secure his services as assistant Editor of the Saturday Museum. We have the pleasure of announcing this week, this association, from which our paper cannot fail to reap the most brilliant advantages. . . .

So great was the interest excited by the Biography and Poems of Mr. Poe, published in the Museum of last week, that to supply those who were disappointed in obtaining copies, we shall be at the expense of an extra Museum, in which the whole article will be re-printed, with corrections and additions. Of this extra we shall publish an edition on fine white paper. It will be ready for delivery at this office on Saturday morning.

[Notwithstanding Clarke’s announcement, Poe never officially joined the Museum staff (cf. Poe to Lowell, 27 March).]

[1843] 3 MARCH. The Pennsylvania Inquirer reviews this week’s Museum: “E. A. Poe, Esq. is now associated in the editorial department. This is an important acquisition, Mr. Poe being an able and spirited writer, a profound critic, and well calculated to add interest to the columns of the Museum.” The United States Gazette also welcomes Poe’s editorship: “His new position will afford another field for the exercise of his fine talents.”

[1843] 4 MARCH. The Pennsylvanian and the Spirit of the Times notice the Museum, both papers praising the announcement of Poe’s editorship.

[1843] 4 MARCH. Samuel D. Patterson replaces Charles J. Peterson as one of the editors and proprietors of the Saturday Evening Post. The name of the firm [page 403:] is changed from “George R. Graham & Co.” to “Samuel D. Patterson & Co.”

[1843] 6 MARCH. WASHINGTON. The Daily Madisonian reports that on Friday, 3 March, the United States Senate rejected the nomination of Thomas S. Smith as Collector of Customs in Philadelphia. Judge Calvin Blythe has been confirmed in his place.

[1843] 6 MARCH. PHILADELPHIA. Du Solle comments in the Spirit of the Times: “The appointment of Hon. Calvin Blythe is everything we could wish. He is honest, capable, Democratic and popular. He was Collector under Van Buren, and the post was never filled to greater advantage, than on that occasion. . . . Shocking long faces at the Custom House on Saturday. Strange! The officers there should look happy. Don’t they all intend to be Blythe as possible?”

[Blythe’s confirmation was believed to signal another round of removals and appointments in the Custom House. Poe made a hasty trip to Washington in hopes of securing one of the anticipated vacancies.]

[1843] 7 MARCH. Poe writes Robert Carter in Boston: “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’ $30, and if you could, by any management, send me the amount so as to reach me, here, by that period, I would feel myself under deep obligation. If you cannot spare 30$ I would be exceedingly glad of $20” (L, 1:225-26).

[1843] 8 MARCH. WASHINGTON. Poe leaves Philadelphia in the morning and travels to Washington, taking lodgings in the evening at Fuller’s City Hotel, where his friend Thomas rooms, on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets.

[1843] 8 MARCH. Thomas addresses a letter of introduction to Robert Tyler at the White House:

This will be handed to you by my friend, Poe, of Philadelphia, who is anxious to know the author of “Ahasuerus.”

I would have presented Poe in person to you, but I have been confined to my bed for the last week with congestive fever, and am covered all over with the marks of cupping and blistering and am not able to go out, though I am convalescing. — When you are down town do call and see me — I feel as lonely as a cat in a strange garret (MB-G; see also Thomas [1978], pp. 526-27). [page 404:]

[1843] 8 MARCH. “On the first evening” Poe is “over-persuaded to take some Port wine” and seems to be “somewhat excited.” On the next day, 9 March, he avoids excessive drinking, keeping “pretty steady” (J. E. Dow to Clarke, 12 March).

[1843] 9 MARCH. PHILADELPHIA. The Spirit of the Times reports: “There are over twelve hundred applicants for situations in the Custom House, under the new Collector already.”

[1843] 9 MARCH. WASHINGTON. At Fuller’s Hotel in the morning, Poe writes the scientist John Kirk Townsend, a leading contributor to Clarke’s Saturday Museum: “I have the honor to enclose two letters, and the bearer will deliver a case containing an air-gun.” Poe promises to call on Townsend in “a day or two” (Thomas [1978], pp. 527-28).

[1843] CA. 10 MARCH. Poe begins to drink excessively; “at intervals” he becomes “quite unreliable” (Dow to Clarke, 12 March).

[1843] CA. 10 MARCH. The musician and journalist John Hill Hewitt encounters Poe on Pennsylvania Avenue: “He [Poe] was then un homme blasse — seedy in his appearance and woe-begone. He came boldly up to me, and, offering me his hand, which I willingly took, asked me if I would forget the past. He said he had not had a mouthful of food since the day previous, and begged me to lend him fifty cents to obtain a meal. Though he looked the used-up man all over — still he showed the gentleman. I gave him the money — and I never saw him afterwards” (Hewitt [1949], p. 19; cf. [1877], p. 43).

[1843] CA. 10 MARCH? Perhaps Poe is introduced to the photographer Mathew B. Brady (Mabbott [1969], 1:353).

[1843] 11 MARCH. BALTIMORE. In the Saturday Visiter Snodgrass comments:

EDGAR ALLAN POE. — A late number of the Philadelphia Museum, contains a long biographical sketch of this far famed writer, accompanied by a portrait, which is perhaps as good as a wood-cut could make it — but not very truthful we think. We observe that the proprietors of the Museum, intend to unite with Mr. Poe, in the establishment of a new magazine to be called The Stylus. We have seen the design of the title page — which represents a hand inscribing the greek [sic] of truth, with a stylus. The form of the work, will be a large octavo of single column. — The text will be illustrated by one of the best artists.

Snodgrass predicts that the Stylus “will make a sensation” when it appears: “True criticism we need much — and of true criticism Poe has proved himself the only master in the land.” [page 405:]

[1843] 11 MARCH. WASHINGTON. Poe writes Clarke in Philadelphia:

I write merely to inform you of my will-doing [sic] — 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 [Upshur].

Send me $10 by mail, as soon as you get this. I am grieved to ask you for money, in this way. — but you will find your account in it — twice over (facsimile in Gill, after p. 120).

[1843] CA. 12 MARCH. Poe’s behavior is adversely affected by excessive drinking. He displays “petulance” toward Thomas and occasions “vexation” to Jesse E. Dow’s wife Eliza. At a social gathering at Fuller’s Hotel, Poe becomes drunk from the proprietor’s port wine. While intoxicated he makes fun of Thomas Dunn English, a Philadelphia supporter of the Tyler administration who is visiting Washington on political business (Poe to Thomas and Dow, 16 March; see also Gravely, pp. 352-54).

[Thomas later recalled: “I was confined to my room by sickness when Poe came to Washington early in 1843. He was sober when I saw him, but afterward in the company of old friends he drank to excess. My physician attended him for several days, and he suffered much from his indiscretion” (quoted by Whitty [1911], p. xlvii).]

[1843] 12 MARCH. Jesse E. Dow writes Clarke in Philadelphia:

He [Poe] arrived here a few days since. On the first evening he seemed somewhat excited, having been over-persuaded to take some Port wine.

On the second day he kept pretty steady, but since then he has been, at intervals, quite unreliable.

He exposes himself here to those who may injure him very much with the President, and thus prevents us from doing for him what we wish to do and what we can do if he is himself again in Philadelphia. He does not understand the ways of politicians, nor the manner of dealing with them to advantage. How should he?

Mr. Thomas is not well and cannot go home with Mr. P. My business and the health of my family will prevent me from so doing.

Under all the circumstances of the case, I think it advisable for you to come on and see him safely back to his home. Mrs. Poe is in a bad state of health, and I charge you, as you have a soul to be saved, to say not one word to her about him [page 406:] until he arrives with you. I shall expect you or an answer to this letter by return of mail.

Should you not come, we will see him on board the cars bound to Phila., but we fear he might be detained in Baltimore and not be out of harm’s way (Gill, pp. 120-22).

[1843] CA. 14 MARCH. PHILADELPHIA. Clarke replies to Dow (Poe to Thomas and Dow, 16 March).

[1843] 15 MARCH. Poe leaves Washington in the morning; he arrives in Philadelphia around 4:30 PM, finding Mrs. Clemm waiting for him at the train station. In the evening he visits Clarke at his residence, 56 South Twelfth Street (Poe to Thomas and Dow).

[Poe was understandably worried about the impression that his partner on the Stylus received from Dow’s letter. Clarke’s editorials in the Saturday Museum reveal him to have been a staunch temperance advocate. His daughter Anne E. C. Clarke recalled that “he never drank liquor nor used tobacco’ (Sartain, p. 217).]

[1843] 16 MARCH. Poe sends a single letter to Thomas and Dow, describing his return trip to Philadelphia yesterday. After “a warm bath & supper” he called on Clarke:

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. . . .

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.

Poe has not yet received the payment for his Pioneer contributions he requested in his 7 March letter to Robert Carter: “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.” Poe addresses a paragraph to Dow alone: “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.” He similarly addresses his other correspondent:

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 & [page 407:] 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 [Thomas Dunn English], whose mustachios I do admire after all, and who has about the finest figure I ever beheld — also to Dr Frailey. Please express my regret to Mr Fuller for making such a fool of 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 coffee with which I was forced to wash it down.

Poe promises to join the Washingtonians, a national temperance society, if Robert Tyler can obtain “the Inspectorship” for him (L, 1:228-30; see also Quinn and Hart, pp. 16-18).

[1843] 16 MARCH. The Spirit of the Times reports that yesterday Calvin Blythe assumed his duties as the new Collector of Customs: “No removals have taken place as yet, though a great number we believe are in contemplation. . . . In the meantime the Custom House is beset with an army of eager applicants for office, and name after name is diligently sought after to append to petitions and recommendations. All this indicates the hardness of the times. Thousands of men are ready and anxious to take a public office now, who, in ordinary times, would rather trust to their own independent exertions for a living.”

[1843] 24 MARCH. Poe writes Peter D. Bernard, the son-in-law of Thomas W. White, in Richmond. He is forwarding an issue of the Saturday Museum containing a prospectus of the Stylus, a magazine which he intends to begin “in connexion with Mr Thomas C. Clarke” on 1 July: “My object in addressing you is to ascertain if the list [of subscribers] 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” (L, 1:230-31).

[1843] 24 MARCH. BOSTON. Lowell writes Poe, promising to pay him for his contributions to the Pioneer as soon as possible: “The magazine was started on my own responsibility, & I relied on the payments I should receive from my publishers to keep me even with my creditors until the Magazine should be firmly established. You may conceive my distress when the very first note given me by my publishers has been protested for nonpayment, & the magazine ruined. For I was unable to go on any farther, having already incurred a debt of $1,800 or more.” Lowell is now making arrangements to borrow money to cover his debts. “The loss of my eyes at this juncture (for I am as yet unable to use them to any extent) adds to my distress” (W, 17:138-39).

[1843] 25 MARCH. The Saturday Museum contains Poe’s “Original Conundrums” (Mabbott [1943], pp. 328-29). [page 408:]

[1843] 27 MARCH. WASHINGTON. Thomas replies to Poe’s 16 March letter: “I would have answered it immediately, but my desk got so behindhand, during my illness when you were here, that every moment of my time has been engaged in bringing it up.” He hopes that Poe will yet receive a position in the Custom House:

I cannot leave the office at present to see Robert Tyler, as you suggest, to get a line from him. But this I can tell you that the President, yesterday, asked me many questions about you, and spoke of you kindly. John Tyler, who was by, told the President that he wished he would give you an office in Philadelphia, and before he could reply a servant entered and called him out. John had heard of your frolic from a man who saw you in it, but I made light of the matter when he mentioned it to me; and he seemed to think nothing of it himself. He seems to feel a deep interest in you. Robert was not by. I feel satisfied that I can get you something from his pen for your Magazine (W, 17:140-41).

[1843] 27 MARCH. PHILADELPHIA. Poe replies to Lowell’s 24 March letter: “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.” He hopes that Lowell has overestimated his financial difficulties and will be able to continue the Pioneer: “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.” Poe is not editing the Museum, “although an announcement was prematurely made to that effect,” but has the privilege of inserting what he likes. He hopes to begin the Stylus on 1 July: “I am anxious to get a poem from yourself for the opening number, but, until you recover your health, I fear that I should be wrong in making the request. . . . 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. . . . You will see by the Prospectus that we intend to give a series of portraits of the American literati, with critical sketches. . . . Could you put me in possession of any likeness of yourself? — or could you do me the same favor in regard to Mr Hawthorne?” (L, 1:231-33).

[1843] 28 MARCH. The Spirit of the Times reprints Poe’s “Original Conundrums” from the Saturday Museum of 25 March.

[1843] 29 MARCH. The Dollar Newspaper announces a literary contest, offering $100 for the best story submitted. The announcement is repeated in the 5 April issue (cf. Phillips, 1:793). [page 409:]

[1843] AFTER 29 MARCH. Poe retrieves his unpublished tale “The Gold-Bug” from George R. Graham, who had purchased it for $52, and enters it in the Dollar Newspaper contest (Poe to Graham, 10 March 1845).

[1843] 30 MARCH. The Spirit of the Times reports: “The Dollar Newspaper offers $200 premiums for first-rate tales.”

[1843] 31 MARCH. BALTIMORE. The Sun reports:

PRIZES. — Important to Literary Writers — Very Liberal Offers and No Humbug. — We perceive by an advertisement in the last number of the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper, that the publishers have come out with an offer of $200 for the three best stories that shall be furnished them by the first day of June next. One hundred for the best, sixty for the second, and forty for the third best. The only conditions imposed upon the writers, are that the subjects of the stories shall be American, and that they shall not be less than a certain length. This exhibits a liberality rarely met with among the publishers of our weekly sheets.

[The Sun was published by A. H. Simmons & Co., the same firm that issued the Dollar Newspaper and the Public Ledger in Philadelphia.]

[1843] 31 MARCH. WASHINGTON. Robert Tyler writes Poe: “I have received your letter in which you express your belief that Judge Blythe would appoint you to a situation in the Custom House provided you have a reiteration of my former recommendation of you. It gives me pleasure to say to you that it would gratify me very sensibly, to see you appointed by Judge Blythe. I am satisfied that no one is more competent, or would be more satisfactory in the discharge of any duty connected with the office” (W, 17:141).

[1843] CA. APRIL? PHILADELPHIA. The Poe family rents a small house at 234 North Seventh Street (now numbered 530) in the Spring Garden district, then a largely undeveloped suburb north of the city proper. Their landlord is William M. Alburger, a wealthy plumber.

[1843] CA. APRIL? The novelist Mayne Reid recalls:

When I first became acquainted with Poe he was living in a suburban district of Philadelphia, called “Spring Garden.” . . . It was then a quiet residential neighborhood, noted as the chosen quarter of the Quakers.

Poe was no Quaker; but, I remember well, he was next-door neighbor to one. And in this wise: that while the wealthy co-religionist of William Penn dwelt in a splendid four-story house, built of the beautiful coral-colored bricks for which Philadelphia is celebrated, the poet lived in a lean-to of three rooms, (there may have been a garret with a closet,) of painted plank construction, supported against the gable of the more pretentious dwelling. . . . [page 410:]

In this humble domicile I can say, that I have spent some of the pleasantest hours of my life — certainly some of the most intellectual. They were passed in the company of the poet himself, and his wife — a lady angelically beautiful in person and not less beautiful in spirit. . . . I remember how we, the friends of the poet, used to talk of her high qualities. And when we talked of her beauty, I well knew that the rose-tint upon her cheek was too bright, too pure to be of Earth. It was consumption’s color — that sadly beautiful light that beckons to an early tomb.

In the little lean-to, besides the poet and his interesting wife, there was but one other dweller. This was a woman of middle age, and almost masculine aspect. She had the size and figure of a man, with a countenance that, at first sight, seemed scarce feminine. A stranger would have been incredulous — surprised, as I was, when introduced to her as the mother of that angelic creature who had accepted Edgar Poe as the partner of her life.

Such was the relationship; and when you came to know this woman better, the masculinity of her person disappeared before the truly feminine nature of her mind . . . . She was the ever-vigilant guardian of the house, watching it against the silent but continuous sap of necessity, that appeared every day to be approaching closer and nearer. She was the sole servant, keeping every thing clean; the sole messenger, doing the errands, making pilgrimages between the poet and his publishers, frequently bringing back such chilling responses as “The article not accepted,” or, “The check not to be given until such and such a day” — often too late for his necessities (Reid, pp. 305-08).

[1843] 1 APRIL. The Saturday Museum contains Poe’s tale “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion,” reprinted under the heading “The Destruction of the World,” and a second installment of his “Original Conundrums.” An editorial by Poe on the second page calls attention to his story on the first:

The views embodied in this conversation are in strict accordance with philosophical speculation. The danger to be apprehended from collision with a comet is, to be sure, very little, and, from the gaseous nature of these erratic bodies, it has been contended that even actual contact would not have a fatal result; but the purport of the article in question seems to be the suggestion of a mode in which, through the cometary influence, the destruction of the earth might be brought about, and brought about in accordance with Prophecy.

From the celestial visitant now present [the comet of 1843], we have, of course, nothing to fear. It is now receding from the earth with a rapidity absolutely inconceivable, and, in a very short period, will be lost, and perhaps forever, to human eyes. But it came unheralded, and to-morrow its counterpart, or some wonder even more startling, may make its appearance. A firm reliance upon the wisdom and goodness of the Deity is by no means inconsistent with a due sense of the manifold and multiform perils by which we are so fearfully environed.

[1843] 8 APRIL. NEW YORK. George P. Morris and Nathaniel P. Willis issue the first number of their New Mirror, a revival of the old New-York Mirror, which had expired in December 1842. [page 411:]

[1843] 17 APRIL. BOSTON. Lowell replies to Poe’s 27 March letter. Hawthorne has agreed to contribute to the Stylus and will forward an article in a week or two: “His terms are $5 a page, but probably, as your pages will ‘eat up’ Copy with a less anaconda-like appetite than the fine print magazines, your best plan would be to pay him so much by the article. His wife will make a drawing of his head or he will have a Daguerreotype taken, so that you can have a likeness of him.” Lowell discusses a likeness of himself which Poe might use for the series on American authors to be published in the Stylus: “[William] Page has painted a head of me which is called very fine, & which is now Exhibiting (I believe) at the National Academy in New York. This might be Daguerreotyped — or I might have one taken from my head as it is now — namely in a more civilized condition — the portrait by Page having very long hair, not to mention a beard and some symptoms of moustache, & looking altogether, perhaps, too antique to be palatable to the gentle public” (W, 17:142-43).

[1843] BEFORE 22 APRIL? PHILADELPHIA. Poe writes his sister Rosalie in Richmond, discussing Virginia’s health (implied by Poe to John Mackenzie, before March, and to Thomas Mackenzie, 22 April).

[1843] 22 APRIL. Poe writes Thomas Mackenzie in Richmond: “About a fortnight ago [on 24 March], I wrote to Peter D. Bernard, who married one of T. W. White’s daughters, and made inquiry about ‘The Southern Literary Messenger’, but have received no reply. . . . You wrote me, some time ago, that the heirs had not made up their minds respecting it.” Poe requests that Mackenzie call upon Bernard, “or upon some one of the other heirs,” and inquire about the Messenger’s subscription list: “If the list is for sale I would make arrangements for its immediate purchase upon terms which would be fully satisfactory to the heirs. But do not let them suppose I am too anxious. By the bye, there may be some prejudice, on the part of the heirs, against me individually, on account of my quitting White — suppose, then, you get some one of your friends to negotiate for you and don’t let me be known in the business at all. . . . Tell Rose that Virginia is much better, toe and all, & that she has been out lately, several times, taking long walks” (L, 2:702-03).

[1843] 29 APRIL. BOSTON. In the Boston Notion Robert Carter publishes an abridgment of the Saturday Museum biography of Poe, quoting as well a long excerpt from his prospectus for the Stylus (Pollin [1969], pp. 585-89).

[1843] 8 MAY. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS. Lowell writes Poe: “I have been [page 412:] delaying to write to you from day to day in the expectation that I should have received an article from Hawthorne to send with my letter.” Hawthorne has not yet furnished the promised contribution for the Stylus: “I have got the idea of Hawthorne’s article so fixed in my mind that I forgot that I did not send you a poem in my last. I have such a reluctance to go into the city that though I have been here nearly three weeks I have not even brought out my MSS. yet. But I mean to do it in a day or two & shall then send you something which I hope will be to your liking.” Lowell thanks Poe for forwarding a copy of the Saturday Museum with his biography and poetry: “Your early poems display a maturity which astonished me & I recollect no individual (& I believe I have all the poetry that was ever written) whose early poems were anything like as good. Shelley is nearest, perhaps” (W, 17:143-44).

[1843] BEFORE 15 MAY? PHILADELPHIA. Thomas C. Clarke withdraws his support from the Stylus (Poe to Lowell, 20 June).

[While Clarke may have felt uncomfortable with Poe’s drinking, his decision was almost certainly prompted by the facts that his Saturday Museum was encountering financial difficulties and that his publishing experience had been limited to “family newspapers,” inexpensive and innocuous weeklies intended for mass circulation. See Thomas (1978), pp. 558-59, 624-27.]

[1843] BEFORE 15 MAY. Poe sends a despondent letter to his Georgia cousin William Poe, describing “many recent reverses” (William’s 16 June letter).

[1843] 15 MAY. BALTIMORE? William Poe replies to Poe, admonishing him (William’s 16 June letter).

[1843] 16 MAY. BOSTON. Lowell writes Poe: “I send you this little poem with some fears that you will be disappointed therein. But it is on the whole the most likely to please of any that I could lay my hands on . . . . You must tell me frankly how you like what I sent & what you should like better. Will you give me your address more particularly so that in case I have a package to send you I can forward it by express?” (W, 17:144-45).

[1843] 20 MAY. PHILADELPHIA. Lambert A. Wilmer writes John Tomlin in Jackson, Tennessee: “Edgar A. Poe (you know him by character, no doubt, if not personally), has become one of the strangest of our literati. He and I are old friends, — have known each other since boyhood, and it gives me inexpressible pain to notice the vagaries to which he has lately become subject. Poor fellow! he is not a teetotaller by any means, and I fear he is [page 413:] going headlong to destruction, moral, physical and intellectual” (Quinn, pp. 401-02).

[1843] 31 MAY. In the Citizen Soldier, a weekly of limited circulation, George Lippard commences “The Spermaceti Papers,” his satires aimed at Graham, Griswold, Peterson, and other literati connected with the editorship of Graham’s Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post.

[1843] LATE MAY? The Saturday Museum carries Clarke’s announcement that he cannot publish the Stylus (Tomlin to Poe, 2 July).

[1843] LATE MAY? CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS. Hawthorne writes Lowell:

I am greatly troubled about that contribution for Mr. Poe. Hitherto, I have never been accustomed to write during summer weather; and now I find that my thoughts fly out of the open window, and will not be enticed back again. I am compelled, indeed, to write a monthly article for the Democratic [Review], but it is with great pain and dolor, and only by the utmost force of self-compulsion. If I am to send anything to Mr. Poe, I should wish it to be worth his reception; but I am conscious of no power to produce anything good, at present. When you write to him, do make my apologies, and tell him that I have no more brains than a cabbage — which is absolutely true. He shall hear from me after the first frost — possibly sooner (NN-B).

[1843] JUNE OR BEFORE. PHILADELPHIA. Felix O. C. Darley recalls Poe:

He [Poe] impressed me as a refined and very gentlemanly man; exceedingly neat in his person; interesting always, from the intellectual character of his mind, which appeared to me to be tinged with sadness. His manner was quiet and reserved; he rarely smiled. I remember his reading his “Gold Bug” and “Black Cat” to me before they were published. The form of his manuscript was peculiar: he wrote on half sheets of note paper, which he pasted together at the ends, making one continuous piece, which he rolled up tightly. As he read he dropped it upon the floor. It was very neatly written, and without corrections, apparently (Darley quoted by Woodberry, 2:2-3).

[1843] JUNE OR BEFORE. OAKY GROVE, GEORGIA. Thomas Holley Chivers writes Poe (Chivers to Poe, 15 June 1844).

[1843] JUNE. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. In the Magnolia William Gilmore Simms reports that Poe will soon establish a new magazine called the Stylus: “Mr. Poe is well calculated to conduct a literary magazine. He is acknowledged as one of our best writers and critics. If any fault is to be found with him, it is in the latter capacity. He is, we fancy, not unfrequently tempted into the utterance of a smart thing, without troubling [page 414:] himself to ask if it be a just one. But the error may well find its excuse, in a day of such lamentable magazine puffery as the present.” The Magnolia also contains a notice of Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz written by the Alabama author Alexander Beaufort Meek, who favorably mentions Poe in passing.

[1843] BEFORE 10 JUNE. PHILADELPHIA. Thomas Dunn English completes The Doom of the Drinker, a temperance novel commissioned by Clarke for his Saturday Museum. The novel contains a malicious caricature of Poe under the influence of alcohol (Thomas [1979], pp. 259-60).

[1843] 10 JUNE. In the Museum Clarke announces that the serialization of English’s novel has been postponed: “The DRUNKARD’s DOOM, it would have afforded us great pleasure to have commenced with this No., but the sickness of Mr. R. S. Gilbert, who is to furnish the engravings from Mr. Darley’s admirable designs [illustrating the novel], has prevented our opening the work in season.”

[1843] 14 JUNE. The Dollar Newspaper carries an announcement by the publishers:

Early after the first of June, we placed in the hands of the “Committee of Decision” all the stories which had reached us pursuant to our offer of premiums, and hoped to be able in the present number of our paper to publish their award, announcing all the premiums. The temporary indisposition of one of the Committee, and the necessary absence of another from town for a few days, have precluded them from concluding their labours as they expected. They have not, however, been idle, and inform us that they have gone over all the stories presented to them, and have awarded the first prize of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS to “THE GOLD BUG,” which we find, on examination of the private notes sent us, and which no one of the members of the Committee has seen, was written by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., of this city — and a capital story the Committee pronounce it to be.

[1843] 15 JUNE. Robert Morris reprints the announcement “from the ‘Dollar Newspaper’ of yesterday” in his Pennsylvania Inquirer: “We congratulate the successful competitor. The story alluded to will no doubt prove worthy the reputation of its gifted author, and the high distinction which has been conferred upon it by the Committee.”

[1843] 15 JUNE. The Spirit of the Times publishes a letter from the well-known balloonist John Wise of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who describes his plan “to make a trip across the Atlantic Ocean in a Balloon, in the summer of 1844.”

[Wise’s letter in the Times, a paper Poe read, is a probable source for “The Balloon-Hoax.”] [page 415:]

[1843] 16 JUNE. BALTIMORE. The Sun reports:

A PRIZE TALE. — Some time since, as announced in this paper, the proprietors of the “Dollar Newspaper” made an offer of premiums more liberal in amount we believe than has hitherto been done by any newspaper in the country, for the best stories which should be sent them before the first of June. The premiums thus submitted to the writers of light literature, were $100 for the best, $60 for the next, and $40 for the third in merit; the tales to be placed in the hands of a committee for decision, whose names were not made known, while the names of the candidates were received in sealed notes by the publishers. We learn by the last number of “The Dollar” that the committee have decided upon a story entitled “The Gold Bug,” as the best, which proves to have been written by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., of Philadelphia; it is announced to appear in the next number of the above paper, and with the added commendation of the committee that it is an excellent tale, will be no doubt universally sought. The committee have not yet decided on the second and third prizes, some difficulty being experienced in the fact that there are several of the tales of nearly equal merit. The decision is, however, expected next week.

[1843] 16 JUNE. William Poe writes Poe:

I wrote you on the 15th ulto since which time I have rec’d nothing from you, mine was in answer to a letter rec’d giving an a/c of yr many recent reverses, & I fear it was in a style not relished by you, but in great sincerity of feeling for you & yours I wrote it, and the reason why I presumed to be so free in my expressions was, in consequence of the great friendship, I feel for you & interest I take in yr welfare, & therefore hoped to hear again from you, & of yr wife’s being better, & yr recovery from the sickness & despondency you were suffering when you last wrote.

William has seen a report in the Sun that Poe has been awarded a prize of $100 for “The Gold-Bug”; he hopes that this money will alleviate his cousin’s financial problems. “Ought you ever to give up in despair when you have such resources as yr well stored mind to apply to? . . . There is one thing I am anxious to caution you against, & which has been a great enemy to our family, I hope, however, in yr case, it may prove unnecessary, ‘A too free use of the Bottle.’ Too many & especially Literary Characters, have sought to drown their sorrows & disappointments by this means, but in vain, and only, when it has been too late, discovered it to be a deeper source of misery” (W, 17:145-46; Ostrom [1981], p. 212).

[1843] 17 JUNE. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier reports that Poe has won a prize of $100 “for a story entitled ‘The Gold Bug, which is said to be every way worthy his high reputation.”

[1843] 19 JUNE. The Public Ledger reports: [page 416:]

AWARD OF PRIZES. — Some few months ago, the publishers of the “Dollar Newspaper” offered their prizes, amounting in the aggregate to $200, for the three best tales for that paper. The Committee to award the prizes was composed of the following gentlemen: — R. T. Conrad, Esq., H. S. Patterson, M.D., and W. L. Lane, and in order that they should not be influenced by names, those of the writers were withheld from the Committee.

These gentlemen, after a full examination of the various stories submitted to them, have made the following award: — The prize of $100 to the tale entitled “The Gold Bug,” written by E. A. Poe, Esq.; the second prize, of $60, to the “Banker’s Daughter,” by Robert Morris, Esq.; the third prize, of $40, to “Marrying for Money,” by a lady in New York, whose name does not accompany her production; she is known as a contributor to several of the magazines by initials only.

[Like the Dollar Newspaper, the Ledger was issued by A. H. Simmons & Co.: its report apparently represents the first official announcement by the publishers of the contest results and the names of the judges, though of course Poe’s tale had been announced on 14 June. Robert T. Conrad was a playwright and jurist; Henry S. Patterson, a physician and author; and Washington L. Lane, managing editor of the Ledger.]

[1843] 19 JUNE. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS. Robert Carter writes Poe, forwarding the abridgment of the Saturday Museum biography he published in the Boston Notion of 29 April: “I was absent from the city when it was printed and did not see the proof; consequently it is full of atrocious errors. What has become of the Stylus? I trust that it has not been found prudent to relinquish the enterprise though I fear that such is the case.” Carter discusses The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, which he read for the first time within the past week:

I lent it [Pym] to a friend who lives in the house with me, and who is a lawyer, a graduate of Harvard, and a brother of Dr. O. W. Holmes, yet he is so completely deceived by the minute accuracy of some of the details, the remarks about the statements of the press, the names of people at New Bedford, &c. that, though an intelligent and shrewd man he will not be persuaded that it is a fictitious work, by any arguments drawn from the book itself. . . . I dislike to tell him that I know it to be fictitious, for to test its truthfulness I gave it to him without remark and he has so committed himself by grave criticisms on its details that I dread to undeceive him. He has crossed the Atlantic twice and commented on an inaccuracy in the description of Pym’s midnight voyage with his drunken friend. I have not the book in the house and knowing nothing of the sea, did not clearly comprehend the objection, but I think it was upon setting a “jib” or some such thing upon a dismasted sloop — I know that the words “jib,” “sloop” & ”only one mast” occurred in his remarks (W, 17:146-48).

[1843] 20 JUNE. PHILADELPHIA. Poe writes Lowell in Boston: [page 417:]

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, 1 have been deprived, through the imbecility, or rather through the idiocy of my partner, of all means of prosecuting it for the present. . . .

My address is 234, North Seventh St above Spring Garden, West Side. Should you ever pay a visit to Philadelphia, you will remember that there is no one in America whom I would rather hold by the hand than yourself (L, 1:234-35).

[1843] 20 JUNE. Poe writes John Tomlin in Jackson, Tennessee, informing him that the Stylus has been postponed (Tomlin to Poe, 2 July).

[1843] 20 JUNE. Poe writes Miss Lucy D. Henry of Red Mill, Charlotte County, Virginia, a granddaughter of Patrick Henry. “It gives me pleasure to comply with the very flattering request [for an autograph] contained in your letter to my sister [Rosalie] of March 26th” (L, 1:234).

[1843] 21 JUNE. The Dollar Newspaper contains the first half of “The Gold-Bug.”

[Each installment was illustrated with an engraving by Darley; both designs are reproduced in Phillips, 1:790-91.]

[1843] 21 JUNE. The Public Ledger reports:

ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR PRIZE STORY — “The Dollar Newspaper” for this week, this day published, contains the prize story of “THE GOLD BUG;” written by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., which is pronounced, by every man of taste who has read it, a production of superior merit. For ourselves, we never read a fiction that in its plot runs more in the line of probability, and consequently never one that more closely rivetted [sic] our attention from its opening to its close; and this, as much from the fact that, as we read, we frequently found ourselves yielding to it credence as a matter of fact, as that the several incidents are in themselves highly interesting and the whole story chastely written.

The Pennsylvania Inquirer also notices the Dollar Newspaper, which “contains the first part of ‘The Gold Bug’ . . . . Single copies may be obtained at the S. W. corner of Third and Chesnut streets [location of Ledger and Dollar Newspaper offices].”

The Poe house on North Seventh Street [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 418]
The Poe house on North Seventh Street

[1843] 22 JUNE. John S. Du Solle comments in the Spirit of the Times: “We forgot to notice the ‘Dollar Newspaper’ yesterday, with its new prize tale by our friend Poe, entitled the ‘Gold Bug.’ The story is illustrated by an engraving, and is highly praised. We shall read it attentively, and advise others to ‘go and do likewise.’ ” The Public Ledger reports: [page 419:]

A GREAT RUSH FOR THE PRIZE STORY! — As largely as the publishers provided for the supposed demand for “The Dollar Newspaper,” containing the prize story of “THE GOLD-BUG,” written by Mr. Poe, the rush to obtain the paper yesterday greatly exceeded their expectation, and there is every probability that they will have forthwith to republish it. We have yet to meet the first man who has read it, that does not pronounce it a production of superior merit — one, which, besides being finely written, possesses more the air of truth than any we have ever read.

[1843] 23 JUNE. The publishers A. H. Simmons & Co. register “The Gold-Bug” for copyright in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Mabbott [1978], 3:804).

[1843] 24 JUNE. The Public Ledger reports:

THE PRIZE STORY OF THE GOLD-BUG. — “The Dollar Newspaper” of this week, containing this capital story, has been in unexampled request, and notwithstanding the large extra edition printed, the supply is nearly exhausted, and the publishers will probably be compelled to put the story to press in pamphlet form. With the view of protecting their own interest in this respect, they have taken out a COPY RIGHT for the Tale, and will endeavor to supply the public demand for it, be it ever so large.

The Saturday Courier comments: “We give to-day, the first part of Mr. Poe’s Prize Tale. The conclusion will be immediately published, and will be sought for with great interest.”

[The Courier reprinted all three prize stories from the Dollar Newspaper, apparently by prior agreement with A. H. Simmons & Co. “The Gold-Bug” appeared in three installments (24 June, 1 and 8 July), Darley’s two illustrations being reproduced in the 8 July issue.]

[1843] 27 JUNE. The editors of the Daily Forum comment:

We give place to the following, but at the same time feel convinced that perfect fairness must have been used in the distribution of prizes, as the character of the Committee precludes any possibility of collusion.


The “Gold Bug” — A Decided Humbug.

We have no hesitation in stating the fact, that humbug beyond all question is at last the “Philosopher’s stone,” in the discovery of which so many geniuses have heretofore been bewildered. In this opinion we are more fully confirmed by the recent literary production entitled the “Gold Bug,” which has been paraded in flourishing capitals by the publishers of the “Dollar Magazine,” [sic] and pronounced by them as the most entertaining and superbly written “prize tale” of modern times! That “one hundred dollars” was paid for this signal abortion we believe to be an arrant falsehood, and in this sentiment we are not singular, for [page 420:] several of our friends who have read the portion which has already appeared, pronounce upon it the verdict of unmitigated trash! We are inclined to think that ten or fifteen dollars satisfied “the talented Edgar A. Poe, Esq.” for this excruciating effort in the tale line.

In the publication of this unique affair, the proprietors of the “Dollar Magazine” know how to give the public “two bites of a cherry[”]; but they will find it a very difficult task to point out hereafter even “the man in a claret coat” who has read the second part of the “Gold Bug:” The writer threw away three cents in the purchase of the commencement of the tale, but will be exceedingly careful in not getting blistered by the ensuing dose of cantharides, which is usually made out of Gold Bugs. The public are little aware of the humbug heretofore practised in this “prize tale” business. . . .

[The communication, signed only with the initial “D.,” was written by Francis H. Duffee, a minor Philadelphia journalist and playwright.]

[1843] CA. 28 JUNE. Poe commences a libel suit against Duffee (Public Ledger, 4 July).

[1843] 28 JUNE. The Dollar Newspaper contains the second half of “The Gold-Bug.” The Public Ledger advises readers:

DON’T BE DISAPPOINTED — Those who, by delay, were last week disappointed in obtaining a copy of “The Dollar Newspaper,” in consequence of the large supply having been early exhausted, will take care this week to call early and secure a copy. It contains the conclusion of that excellent prize story, “The Gold-Bug,” the merits of which we spoke fully last week. The public demand for the paper bears out all that we have said of the Tale. All who have read it through, so far as we have heard it spoken of, pronounce it superior to any American production that they ever before read. The interest given to the story in working up the mystery to the point at which it stopped last week, is successfully maintained to the conclusion in elucidating it.

In the Citizen Soldier George Lippard comments:

THE DOLLAR NEWSPAPER. — A capital sheet. The “Gold-bug, a Prize Story,” by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., is written in the most popular style of the gifted author, characterised by thrilling interest and a graphic though sketchy power of description. It is one of the best stories that Poe ever wrote. And with regard to the matter of the “Prize,” it is a humbug — a transparent, gauze-lace, cobweb-tissue humbug. The public well know that name and not merit, constitute the criterion of the board of secret critics. . . . The idea that the board of judges do not know the hand writing of all literary men of celebrity, is — with respect we say it — all fudge. In such a system, the man of notoriety has all the chances — the man of genius none. However, with regard to Mr. Poe, we can have but one opinion. This story is worth the “Prize money,” ten times told.

[1843] 29 JUNE. In the Spirit of the Times John S. Du Solle reports: “We learn that [page 421:] an action for damages has been brought against Mr. F. H. Duffee, No. 3 South Third street, for publishing a communication in the Forum, in which it was insinuated that the publishers of the Dollar Newspaper had defrauded the public, by paying that talented writer, Edgar A. Poe, Esq., $15 for his admirable tale of the ‘Gold Bug,’ instead of paying the prize of $100, as announced, to the author of the best production offered them.” The Pennsylvania Inquirer observes that yesterday’s Dollar Newspaper “contains the conclusion of the ‘GOLD BUG,’ . . . which has excited much attention. The entire story, printed in an extra, may be obtained at the office of the ‘Newspaper’ . . . . A large edition will no doubt be called for.”

[1843] 30 JUNE. The Public Ledger reports:

THE GOLD-BUG. — A second edition of “The Dollar Newspaper,” containing the whole of this prize story, as written by Mr. POE, has been published and will be for sale to-day at the counter of the Ledger office. The story is illustrated with two finely executed engravings, and the paper, besides containing another excellent story, by Willis, with much other news matter, is afforded at THREE CENTS per copy, with or without wrappers. The prize story, in every direction, elicits unqualified commendation.

[1843] 30 JUNE. NEW YORK. The New York Herald mentions Poe’s suit against Duffee, basing its account on Du Solle’s report yesterday (Mabbott [1978], 3:804).

[1843] JULY. In the “Editor’s Table” of the Knickerbocker Magazine, Lewis Gaylord Clark quotes an anonymous correspondent who defends “Flaccus” (Thomas Ward) from Poe’s attack in the March Graham’s: “His [Ward’s] ‘Epistle from my Arm-chair’ was in good hexameters, and his ‘Address to the President of the New-England Temperance Society’ had a TOM MOORS-ish spice of elegant wit about it, and might have been written by Mr. POE in about a century of leap-years.”

[1843] 1 JULY. PHILADELPHIA. The Spirit of the Times publishes a letter to its editor from Duffee, who retracts his assertion in the Daily Forum of 27 June that Poe did not receive $100 for “The Gold-Bug”:

Mr. Du Solle — Dear Sir: — You say in your paper of yesterday [29 June], that an action for damages has been brought against Mr. F. H. Duffee . . . .

In justice to myself, whatever may be the result of this unpleasant business, will you give place to the following extract from the publication in question? The language used by me is as follows: — “That one hundred dollars was paid for this signal abortion, we believe to be an arrant falsehood,” &c. &c. “We incline to think that ten or fifteen dollars satisfied the talented,” &c. &c. My position, you [page 422:] will perceive, is qualified by a doubt, and is stated merely as an opinion, the contradiction of which publicly given by the publishers, sets the matter at rest, and merely goes to show that I, in my criticism, have committed an error.

In the same column Du Solle himself begins another controversy by facetiously accusing Poe of plagiarizing “The Gold-Bug” from a story written by a schoolgirl:

In Miss Sherburne’s “Imogine,” the “treasure” found on Long Island Sound, as once belonging to the noted “Kidd,” [is] buried under an “old oak.” Figures are traced on the tree — 1, 7, 1, 2 — with a hand pointing to the ground near the tree. At some distance from the tree, is the figure of another hand pointing to an old stone wall; while under the tree a “dead limb falls and stands upright in the ground,” to the surprise of the hero, &c. page 57. Again the treasure is found under the old tree. A skeleton also lies buried on the treasure, which is removed. Then a few pieces of gold are seen. On digging, the men find the treasure, which is all taken away. Spades and mattacks are used. A “damp piece of leather” (not parchment) is also found, tied with tarred twine, which on being opened is discovered to be the “journal of the Pirate,” — pages 102, 104, 105, &c. &c.

We need say no more. Mr. Poe is a good-hearted, clever man, a most able and talented writer, and we would not for the world accuse him of plagiarism, but we cannot help thinking how curious a thing it is that two such persons should hit on such exactly corresponding ideas.

[The Tales of George Ann Humphreys Sherburne, a slender volume published in Washington in 1839, contained only two stories, “Imogine; or the Pirate’s Treasure” and “The Demon’s Cave.” In her preface the author stated that she had “numbered but thirteen summers.”]

[1843] 2 JULY. JACKSON, TENNESSEE. John Tomlin writes Poe: “I had seen, before I received your letter of the 20 ult, Mr. Clark[e]’s announcement in the ‘Museum,’ of his withdrawal from the Stylus proje[c]t; — and even before then, from your long and protracted silence, and in the absence of all evidence, save this, had the belief that the devilish machinations of a certain clique in Philadelphia, had completely baulked your laudable designs.” Tomlin had asked Simms to notice the Stylus in the Magnolia, which he did in the June number. “I had caused to be noticed in various newspapers of the South and West, your project; and did see thro’ these sources, the high admiration in which my friends in those places, held your Endowments. . . . Have you not in your City, some, that thro’ a friendship which they feel not, are doing you much evil? I have had a letter quite lately [from Lambert A. Wilmer on 20 May], from one professing all friendship for you, in which some allusions are made to you in a manner greatly astonishing me” (W, 17:149-51).

[1843] AFTER 2 JULY. PHILADELPHIA. Poe replies to Tomlin, asking to be sent the [page 423:] letter containing the unflattering references to him (Poe to Tomlin, 28 August).

[1843] 4 JULY. NEW YORK. The New York Herald repeats Du Solle’s charge that Poe plagiarized “The Gold-Bug” from Miss Sherburne’s “Imogine” (Mabbott [1978], 3:802-03).

[1843] 4 JULY. PHILADELPHIA. The Public Ledger reports:

We are informed that Edgar A. Poe, Esq., author of the prize story entitled the “Gold-Bug,” published in the Dollar Newspaper, has commenced a suit for libel against one Francis H. Duffee, a person formerly connected in some official capacity, we understand, with several of the small savings institutions of our city now no more, and at present in some capacity in connection with a broker’s office, No. 3 S. Third st. The alleged libel consisted in the publication of an anonymous communication in the Forum of the 27th of June, reflecting upon the character for integrity of Mr. P., as well as upon the committee of decision appointed to award the premiums lately offered by the publishers of the Dollar Newspaper, and also upon the publishers. The article in question charges the parties, if not directly, at least by implication, with collusion and positive fraud.

Mr. P. will, of course, allow the gentleman every opportunity he may desire to substantiate his charges, or any portion of them, and as he will necessarily fail in every particular to do so, or to show the least shadow or particle of the appearance of anything to justify the charges he has made, he will hold himself ready to bear the consequences of an act which must have been prompted solely and entirely by his own mere suspicions . . . .

The card purporting to be an apology, over the signature of the gentleman himself, in the Spirit of the Times of Saturday last, amounts to nothing more than an exposure of his own attempted injustice to the parties concerned.

The Ledger criticizes the Daily Forum for publishing Duffee’s “foul slander.”

[1843] 4, 6, 7 JULY. The Pennsylvania Inquirer reprints “The Gold-Bug” in three installments, without Darley’s illustrations.

[1843] 6 JULY. The Daily Forum replies to the Ledger’s editorial of 4 July, defending its decision to publish Duffee’s communication: “We stated that the character of the gentlemen composing the committe[e] to award the premiums, precluded the possibility of any collusion between the editors of the Dollar Weekly and Mr. Poe, and as we were of this opinion, we rejected one communication from the same source, and even cut out sentences from the published one. The correspondent spoke with certainty, and having a responsible name, we felt it a duty to lend our colemns [sic] to expose what was characterized as a humbug. Upon the first application made to us, we gave the name of our correspondent.”

In another column the Forum publishes a long letter from Duffee: [page 424:]

I have yet received no intimation that a suit has been commenced. If, however, to receive a polite note from a highly talented and amiable member of the bar — if to be waited upon by Mr. Edgar A. Poe, accompanied by two gentlemen with big sticks — if to meet them boldly and candidly acknowledge myself the author of the critique — if to be again waited on by the said Poe, accompanied by another gentleman with a big stick, and presented with a paper for me to sign calculated to make me acknowledge myself a liar and a scoundrel in the face of the public — if this is the commencement of legal proceedings, it is a way so outre, so “grotesque and arabesque,” that it could only emanate from the clique, and not from the proper tribunal, the law! . . .

If Poe is so excrutiating [sic] sensitive, how is it that he passes over the in[n]uendoes so delicately aimed at him by his caustic friend, the author of a poem entitled Recantation? Is not this Poe notorious for his severe and scorching criticisms? Has he not driven from the field of poetry the timid and aspiring son of genius? and that too with a withering scorn, which has paled the cheek of many a poor wight! Has he ever shown mercy to others? Then why so “demm’d “ sensitive now? Will not the young lady, (scarcely sixteen,) the accomplished Miss Sherburne, the talented authoress of “Imogene, or the Pirate’s Treasure,” feel aggrieved to find that the Gold Bug is partly built upon the beautiful materials her imagination collected together . . . .

[One of Poe’s legal advisers was almost certainly Henry B. Hirst, who had been admitted to the Philadelphia bar on 4 February; another may have been the prominent lawyer and playwright David Paul Brown (see Thomas [1978], pp. 503-04, 607-08, and Miller [1979], p. 440). Poe’s “caustic friend” was Lambert A. Wilmer, whose Recantation (1843) was a tongue-in-cheek denial of the satiric observations on American poets he had made in The Quacks of Helicon (1841).]

[1843] 8 JULY. BALTIMORE. In the Saturday Visiter Snodgrass reports: “E. A. POE has carried a prize of $100 from the proprietors of the ‘Dollar Newspaper,’ with a story entitled the ‘Gold Bug.’ It has had a tremendous run.”

[1843] 8 JULY. PHILADELPHIA. Clarke comments in the Saturday Museum:

THE GOLD BUG. This is the title of the story written by our friend Edgar A. Poe, Esq., which has been very justly designated as the most remarkable “American work of fiction that has been published within the last fifteen years.” The period might very safely have been extended back to a period much more remote[,] for so singular a concatenation of incongruous and improbable, nay, impossible absurdities, were never before interwoven in any single or half dozen works of fancy, fact or fiction; and never before, we venture to say, were such mysterious materials so adroitly managed, or a train of incongruities dovetailed together with such masterly ingenuity. Indeed the intense interest which the fiction awakens arises from the skillful management of the several improbabilities, which are so presented as to wear all the semblance of sober reality. It is the unique work of a singularly constituted, but indubitably great intellect, and we [page 425:] give, in another part of our paper, the substance of the “Gold Bug,” omitting the ab[s]truse and elaborate details in which the plot is involved. We may add that the train of reasoning is throughout of a clear, strong, and highly ingenious character, such in fact as would do credit to the highest order of talent that ever puzzled a judge or mystified a jury.

[In this issue Clarke published a plot summary of Poe’s tale, about one-fourth the length of the original. The Museum and the Dollar Newspaper were in direct competition with each other, both being weekly “family newspapers”; and the publishers of the latter presumably did not give Clarke permission to reprint the story which they had copyrighted.]

[1843] 12 JULY. The Public Ledger reports a third edition of Poe’s tale: “ ‘THE GOLD-BUG’ AND ‘THE BANKER’s DAUGHTER.’ — The second edition of this first prize story, and the first edition of the second, having been exhausted, an additional supply has been printed in extra sheets, and are now for sale at the Office of the Public Ledger. Price, three cents each, with or without wrappers.”

[1843] 13 JULY. The Daily Forum comments: “The third prize tale of the Dollar Weekly, ‘Marrying for Money,’ is delightfully written. It is worth a whole library of such entomological productions as the Gold Bug. We have not seen Mr. Morris’ production, which took the second prize.”

[1843] 14 JULY. The Forum adds: “We have read the second prize tale . . . . Having now read the three productions, with all deference to the Committee who adjudged the prizes, we think they were exactly reversed in the order of merit; the last should have been first, and the first last.” The Public Ledger reports: “ALL THE PRIZE STORIES TOGETHER. — The publishers of ‘The Dollar Newspaper,’ in order to supply the demand for the three prize stories, for which they recently paid two hundred dollars, have issued them together, on a large sheet, as a ‘Supplement’ to their regular paper, which will be for sale at the Ledger Office to-day. This sheet . . . is sold at SIX CENTS . . . . this is the fourth edition of ‘The Gold-Bug.’ ”

[1843] 15 JULY. In the Spirit of the Times Du Solle retracts his accusation of plagiarism: “THE GOLD BUG. — We have read this prize tale by Mr. Poe carefully, and also the ‘Pirate’s Treasure’ by Miss Sherburne, and while we confess that the Gold Bug pleases us much, is exceedingly well-written and ingenious, we are constrained to add that it bears no further resemblance to Miss Sherburne’s tale, than it must necessarily bear from the fact of touching upon the same general grounds. Mr. Poe well deserved the prize of $100.” [page 426:]

[1843] 18 JULY. The Public Ledger observes that the New York Herald has perpetrated “one of the most barefaced plagiarisms,” its 16 July editorial “on the decline of the drama” being copied “word for word” from Blackwood’s Magazine for June. “This same paper charged Mr. Poe with having committed plagiarism in writing the prize story for the Dollar Newspaper, the Gold-Bug, by stealing the plot from a tale by Miss Sherbourne [sic]. Even this idea of the Herald was stolen from another paper, which has since retracted the charge in a handsome manner; but the Herald holds on to the stolen idea as if it was its own and honestly come by, even after the owner himself has repudiated it as unjust to Mr. Poe. For shame!”

[1843] CA. 18 JULY. William H. Graham, No. 98 Chestnut Street, publishes a pamphlet with this title on the outside front cover:


[1843] 19 JULY. In the Dollar Newspaper the editor Joseph Sailer compares “The Gold-Bug” and “Imogine,” exonerating Poe of plagiarism. Miss Sherburne’s tale contains “not a word about Kidd — not a word about secret writing — not a syllable about a Gold-Bug — not a syllable about anything that is found in Mr. Poe’s story; the only point of coincidence being the finding of money — a subject which has been handled not only by Miss Sherburne, but by some fifty, if not by some five hundred talewriters.” Sailer surmises that the accusation in the Spirit of the Times “was, no doubt, hurriedly written, before a full perusal of both tales”; he reprints Du Solle’s 15 July retraction, “in which the amende honorable is magnanimously made” (Mabbott [1978], 3:802).

[1843] 19 JULY. In the Pennsylvania Inquirer Robert Morris comments:

Mr. W. H. Graham, No. 98 Chesnut street, has just commenced the publication in a series of numbers, of the Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe, Esq. We bespeak for this work more than ordinary attention. Mr. Poe is an able and a popular writer, and we notice with sincere pleasure, an undertaking which will collect his admirable stories together, and afford the public an opportunity of possessing them in a convenient form. The first number, which is sold at 12 1/2 cents, contains two articles entitled “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and the “Man that was used up” — both of them excellent. [page 427:]

The Daily Chronicle also notices “the first number” of Poe’s Prose Romances: “The stories are very interesting, and writ[t]en in the peculiar graphic and forcible style of the distinguished author.”

[1843] 19 JULY? Poe signs a document in the District Court.

[The document cannot presently be located. According to an anonymous and often unreliable article on “Poe in Philadelphia” in the Philadelphia Press, 19 June 1892, p. 26, Poe “signed a blank form, and had himself registered . . . as a student of law, with H. B. Hirst for legal preceptor.” It seems very unlikely that Poe would have chosen to study law under Hirst; perhaps the “blank form” was related to his current suit against Duffee, in which Hirst seems to have played a part. See 27 JULY.]

[1843] AFTER 19 JULY. Poe gives an autographed copy of his Prose Romances to Francis J. Grund, a politician and journalist holding an office in the Custom House (presentation copy in DLC-RB).

[1843] 20 JULY. The Daily Forum notices the Prose Romances: “We are pleased to have this opportunity of expressing our general admiration of Mr. P’s writings, and although we cannot see the merit of the ‘Gold Bug,’ and esteem it entirely unworthy of his name and reputation, still every oyster we know does not contain a pearl. The tales in the present number are the ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ and the ‘Man that was used up;’ — differing as they do most essentially in style, they evince the varied powers of the author, and the facility with which he travels ‘from grave to gay.’ ”

Front wrapper of Poe's Prose Romances [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 428]
Front wrapper of Poe’s Prose Romances

[1843] 21 JULY. Three daily papers notice the Prose Romances. The Public Ledger finds that the two stories in this first number “will repay anybody by entertainment for their perusal.” The Pennsylvanian comments: “Mr. Poe is a man of remarkable and peculiar ability, and his prose romances are not only original in style and conception, but, in the main, possess singular merit. They will be found well worth reading, and this edition gives them in a neat and agreeable form.” In the United States Gazette Joseph R. Chandler comments: “Whether Mr. Poe has been too much occupied, or too indifferent to his own fame, we do not know; but we have often, in our own mind, doubted which was the cause that prevented him from issuing a uniform edition of his interesting and vigorous writings. The number before us shows that the work has been well commenced, and we cannot doubt that it will be well received, and amply rewarded.”

[1843] 22 JULY. Two weekly papers notice the Prose Romances. In the Saturday [page 429:] Museum Clarke comments: “Those who have a relish for the wild and wonderful — who would ‘sup their full of horrors,” revel in mysteries and riot in the deep, dark, recesses which an iron intellect is capable of investing with intense interest, have a full feast spread for them in the pages of the Prose Romances. But above all has the man of legal lore an opportunity of acquiring an insight into his profession, more thorough than his long days and studious nights could ever glean from all the records of criminal practices in the courts, or the pages of Blackstone or Coke. Mr. Poe has the power, more than any other writer within our knowledge, not only of creating the most intricate mysteries, but unravelling them too.” The Saturday Evening Post welcomes “the commencement of a re publication of the Stories and Sketches of E. A. Poe, Esq, in a neat form, such as will make, when completed, a very handsome volume. . . . To the readers of the Saturday Post, or indeed to any one acquainted with the periodical literature of our country, Mr. Poe requires no introduction.”

[1843] 24 JULY. In the morning Poe meets Duffee; they sign an agreement ending their dispute. Later in the day, Duffee sends a letter describing their meeting to the New York Cynosure (see 27 JULY).

[1843] 25 JULY. The Daily Forum publishes the agreement:

A CARD. — The undersigned avail themselves of this opportunity to announce to their friends and the literary public, that all differences between them have been amicably and satisfactorily arranged. In regard to the article on the “Gold Bug,” published in the “Forum,” Mr. Duffee sincerely regrets that it should have been misconstrued into a collusion between Mr. Poe and the publishers of the “Dollar Newspaper,” as well as the committee appointed to award the premiums lately offered by that paper, in which Mr. Poe was the successful competitor, and consequently retracts any alleged construction on his part to that effect.

With this admission, they conjointly waive all matter of dispute heretofore in existence, by Mr. Poe withdrawing his libel suit, which was instituted in consequence of the above misunderstanding. (Signed)



Philadelphia, July 24th, 1843.

The editors of the Forum comment: “We are pleased . . . that a very foolish quarrel has been amicably arranged. We do not believe in a resort to libel suits — the reputation that requires the law to mend it, is hardly worth tinkering, and we must all expect knocks and bruises in this world of politics and literature.”

[1843] 25 JULY. The Public Ledger, the Daily Forum, and the Spirit of the Times report that the bookseller J. R. Colon, 203 1/2 Chestnut Street, is now [page 430:] offering for sale Miss Sherburne’s Tales, containing “Imogine” and “The Demon’s Cave.”

[1843] 25 JULY. Rufus W. Griswold writes Fitz-Greene Halleck in New York, discussing the notice of this poet to be published in the “Our Contributors” series of Graham’s Magazine: “Instead of attempting an illustrative sketch myself, I employed Mr. Edgar A. Poe to write an essay on your poetry and a sketch of your history. I have just read his manuscript, and think that your friends will be gratified with the article” (J. G. Wilson [1869], pp. 441-42).

[1843] 26 JULY. In the Pennsylvania Inquirer Robert Morris comments:

We learn that the first number of the Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe, Esq., has met with a ready sale. This was to be expected. Mr. Poe has distinguished himself in every walk of literature; and it may be doubted whether the country boasts a writer of greater favor and more varied and finished accomplishments. As an editor of the Southern Literary Messenger he acquired and deserved a reputation, [of] which any living writer might be proud. In the field of romance, he has the rare merit of originality. Most of the tales of the day are copies of copies, — a reiteration of incidents a hundred times recited, and a repetition of sentiments, which, however commendable, are as well known as the Lord’s Prayer. Mr. Poe’s Romances are of a character entirely dissimilar. There is no apparent effort; no straining after sentiment; no daubing of red and white antithesis; no copied descriptions, a thousand times repeated, and weakened like circles in the water, with every repetition. In the present number, The Murders in the Rue Morgue is the better of the two tales. Of itself it proves Mr. Poe to be a man of genius. The inventive power exhibited is truly wonderful[.] At every step it whets the curiosity of the reader, until the interest is heightened to a point from which the mind shrinks with something like incredul[i]ty; when with an inventive power and skill, of which we know no parallel, he reconciles every difficulty, and, with the most winning vraisemblance brings the mind to admit the truth of every marvel related. . . .

[1843] 26 JULY. In the Citizen Soldier George Lippard briefly notices Poe’s Prose Romances: “The number before us, containing ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ and ‘The man that was used up, strikingly develope [sic] the analytic talent of the gifted author, as well as his powers of cutting and sarcastic humor. The first story is, like the ‘Gold Bug,’ unique, original and impressive in its style and character.”

The issue also contains the seventh installment of Lippard’s “Spermaceti Papers,” in which the “Grey Ham” [George R. Graham] discusses his magazine with the engraver “Phelix Phillegrim” [possibly John Sartain], “Rumpus Grizzel” [Rufus W. Griswold], and “Peter Sun” [Charles J. Peterson]: [page 431:]

“And then with regard to the Contributors to my Babe — “

“Yet Babe? Och, Whalaloo! — what’s that?” [asks Phelix Phillegrim.]

“A familiar name for my magazine . . . . With regard to my contributors — ‘Pay the rich, insult the poor’ is my motto; it[’]s a safe one. There’s Ex-Secretary Paulding, there’s Hoffman, there’s Herbert, there’s Fay — I pay ’em all. There’s some dozens of poor devils whom I treat with proper scorn — the poor devils!”

“The saints presarve me — here’s the August number of your Babe. All rich authors — gilded geniuses, seven of the Riverend Clergy — Grizzle, noble, ‘Bethune the Beautiful’ — etcetera. Yet here’s one poor author — I’ll be split if there isn’t! Edgar A. Poe — isn’t he one o’ th’ poor devils?”

“Aye, aye, but my dear Mr. Phillegrim, this same Edgar A. Poe is — is — rather a bitter fellow, and has a way of his own of using up all humbugs. He carries a Tomahawk — does Poe. A very bad Tomahawk, a very nasty Tomahawk. Poe is poor — but we have to get him to write for the Babe.”

“It isn’t meself as is much of a judge of caracter, but it seems to me, ye fear the man? By the big bull-frog of Athlone! ye’ve a wholesome fear of this same poor author — Misther Poe?”

“He doesn’t think I’m a great man,” quoth Rumpus.

“I suspect he thinks I steal the gems of my stories,” cries little Peter.

[1843] BEFORE 27 JULY. Graham’s for August contains Poe’s “Our Amateur Poets, No. III [No. II]: William Ellery Channing.”

[1843] 27 JULY. The Pennsylvanian reviews Graham’s:

There is a slashing critique . . . upon the poetry of William Ellery Channing, written by Mr. E. A. Poe, in his sharpest manner, which on such occasions is apt to be sharp enough. How far the censure is deserved, we cannot pretend to say, not being familiar with the poetry in question, but certainly some people will be not a little surprised to learn from the article referred to, that Thomas Carlyle is “an ass,” such being the reviewer’s private opinion — now first made public. This is rather a startling announcement, when, in the opinion of multitudes on both sides of the Atlantic, the “Past and Present” of this “ass” had placed him first, immeasurably first, among living essayists.

27 JULY. In the Spirit of the Times Du Solle reports:

THE GOLD BUG DIFFICULTY. — The difficulty between Mr. Poe and Mr. F. H. Duffee, we are pleased to learn, has been settled. The Philadelphia correspondent of the New York Cynosure, (who is Mr. F. H. Duffee himself,) says in his letter of Monday —

It appears that the Petty-fogger about whom I wrote you in my last, has been at the bottom of all the mischief which existed between the belligerents in the matter of the “Gold Bug.” This morning Edgar A. Poe, Esqr, waited upon Mr. E H. Duffee, and in the most honorable manner waived all matter of dispute, by attaching his name to a card, [page 432:] dictated by the other, which will appear in the Forum of tomorrow, when you will have an opportunity of perusing the termination of this critical squabble. Duffee, you know, handles a literary dissecting knife as well as Poe, and when “diamond cuts diamond” there is sure to be sharp work. . . .

I have several “rods in pickle” for the creature who rejoices in the soubriquet of “golden locks;” which were I once to flourish around his insignificant person it would produce a strain of music sufficient to affright even the veritable pegas-asses, that browse upon nothing else but “spondee and dactyls.”

[The “Petty-fogger” may well have been Henry B. Hirst. Duffee’s second paragraph clearly refers to Hirst, whose red hair (“golden locks”) and vaunted knowledge of versification were frequently satirized in the city’s newspapers.]

[1843] 27 JULY. The Daily Forum comments: “Miss Sherburne’s Tales. — We have reperused the story of ‘Imogene, or the Pirate’s Treasure,[’] with a view to detect whether Mr. Poe had borrowed any of its incidents for his Gold Bug. There are men and women, pirates and a concealed treasure in each, and there the resemblance ends. They are no more alike than the Gold Bug is like the ‘Man that was used up.’ ”

[In the Saturday Museum of 29 July Clarke also observed that the “supposed resemblance” between the two stories was “altogether imaginary.”]

[1843] 28 JULY. The Daily Forum reviews the August Graham’s:

Mr. Poe, the most hyper-critical writer of this meridian, cuts the poetry of William Ellery Channing, Junior, if not into inches, at least into feet. Mr. C.’s poetry is very trashy, and we should as soon expect to hear Bryant writing sonnets on a lollypop as to see Mr. Poe gravely attempt to criticise the volume. But there is method in it — it is not so absurd as one might suppose — Mr. Channing’s weakness gives Mr. Poe an excellent opportunity of showing his strength! Your critical Olivers — your wrestlers in the rough and tumble of the quasi-chair editorial of a magazine, are never afraid to knock a chip off the shoulder of any pigmy of them all! . . . Mr. Poe is the critic, beyond dispute, of the age. Mr. Channing is the greatest po-etaster, Mr. Poe the greatest small po-tatoe! Bah! How this humbug pretension sickens us! Such nonsensical stuff to be dignified as a criticism upon “Our Amateur Poets” as antithetical to the professional merits of the cutter up, we presume! . . . Altogether the number is an excellent one, and even if disposed to find fault, we could hardly find occasion, when we allow ourselves to suppose that Mr. Poe’s contribution was intended as a jeu d’esprit and not a grave criticism.

[1843] 29 JULY. The Saturday Courier notices the Prose Romances: [page 433:]

Is there a man, woman, or child, “read up,” as they phrase it in American Literature, who is unacquainted with Edgar A. Poe? We take it for granted that there is not . . . .

Had we space and time, we should delight to enter into an extended critique of Mr. Poe’s productions: and yet, should we do so, some might — perhaps justly — charge us with egotism, even in such an attempt. . . . That Edgar A. Poe, has a peculiar mind, everybody admits. That he is original, all know. That he is learned — very learned — is equally well established. That he is one of the severest of critics, none deny — but many have felt. That he is one of the very best of the American Critics, we think only a few would undertake to deny. Yet, it is very certain that he sometimes wields a broad-axe, where a hatchet might have been equally efficacious. Besides, we have sometimes inclined to the opinion, that some of his book criticisms were infused with a little too much of worm-wood, with a sprinkling of gall, in doses far from being Homeopathic.

[1843] 29 JULY. BALTIMORE. The Saturday Visiter contains an abridgment of the Saturday Museum biography of Poe. Snodgrass comments:

The extraordinary “run” which the “Gold Bug” has enjoyed, has naturally attracted general attention to its author, and caused many to desire to learn something of his parentage, character, and career — as well as personal appearance. Inasmuch as we have, for years, enjoyed the acquaintance of the subject of this sketch, we might speak of our own knowledge; but finding the facts to our hands, in the “Philadelphia Saturday Museum,” we merely assume to the office of an editor on the present occasion — not having room nor leisure for enlarging upon his unquestioned abilities and characteristics as a writer of pure fiction, and as a critic — in which latter capacity he is unequalled in this country, be his faults what they may.

[1843] BEFORE AUGUST? PHILADELPHIA. Samuel D. Patterson, editor of the Saturday Evening Post, pays Poe $20 for his tale “The Black Cat” (Poe to Ezra Holden, 26 August).

[1843] 3, 10, 17 AUGUST. MONTROSE, PENNSYLVANIA. The Volunteer reprints “The Gold-Bug” in three installments (Heartman and Canny, p. 271).

[1843] 5 AUGUST. BALTIMORE. In the Saturday Visiter Snodgrass briefly notices “number one of a neat serial issue of the prose romances of Edgar Allan Poe, . . . containing the ‘Murders of the Rue Morgue’ complete — certainly one of his greatest efforts.”

[1843] 5, 7 AUGUST. PHILADELPHIA. The Public Ledger carries an advertisement for the Walnut Street Theatre, northeast corner of Ninth and Walnut, announcing the “FAREWELL BENEFIT” of the actor and playwright Silas S. Steele, “Prior to his departure for England,” on “TUESDAY EVENING, August [page 434:] 8th.” The benefit will feature a performance of Steele’s drama Clandare: “To conclude with an entire new piece, entitled THE GOLD-BUG, Or, The Pirate’s Treasure. Dramatized from the Prize Story of Edgar A. Poe, Esq., published in the DOLLAR NEWSPAPER, which for several weeks has had an unprecedented run. BLACK JUPITER by the celebrated COAL WHITE.”

[1843] 8 AUGUST. The Ledger carries a second advertisement for Steele’s benefit which lists the casts of the two dramas: “THE GOLD-BUG. — Friendling, Mr. Charles; Legrand, Mr. Thompson; Jupiter, Mr. J. H. White; Old Martha of the Isle, Mrs. Knight.” A similar advertisement naming the actors appears in the Pennsylvanian.

[1843] 9 AUGUST. JACKSON, TENNESSEE. John Tomlin writes Poe, enclosing a letter in cipher which he received from Alexander B. Meek of Tuscaloosa, Alabama: “Believing that many things are possible with you, that is not believed in the World’s Phylosophy [sic], I have taken the liberty, which you will excuse, of sending the letter to you, with the belief that you will make some thing out of it. In conclusion allow me to say, that very many of our learned Citizens, have endeavored, but in vain to solve it” (MB-G).

[1843] 10 AUGUST. PHILADELPHIA. In the Spirit of the Times Du Solle comments: “MR. STEELE had a good house at his benefit on Tuesday night, and the performances were generally good. The Gold Bug, however, dragged, and was rather tedious. The frame work was well enough, but wanted filling up.”

[1843] BEFORE 18 AUGUST. The Saturday Evening Post for 19 August features “The Black Cat” on its first page. On the second the editors comment:

“The Black Cat,” by Mr. Poe, is written in that vein of his which no other American writer can imitate, or has, successfully. The accompaniment of probable events with improbable circumstances, so blended with the real that all seems plausible; and the investiture of the whole with a shadowy mythic atmosphere, leaving a strong and ineffaceable impression upon the reader’s mind, is an effort of imagination to which few are equal. For our own part, we are bound to give the pas to all black cats, henceforth and forever; and to treat them with most obsequeous [sic] consideration. Cruelty to animals is a sin which deserves a punishment as severe as Mr. Poe has inflicted upon his hero.

[1843] 18 AUGUST. The United States Gazette reports: “A thrilling original tale, from the pen of Edgar A. Poe Esq, leads off this week in the Post.”

[1843] 18 AUGUST. LENOX, MASSACHUSETTS. The novelist Catharine Maria [page 435:] Sedgwick writes George R. Graham in Philadelphia: “Will you be kind enough through your magazine to inform Mr Poe & those who may have fallen into the error he has committed in his review of the Poems of William Ellery Channing that this young gentleman is not the son but the nephew of the illustrious Dr [William Ellery] Channing?” (MB-G).

[1843] BEFORE 26 AUGUST. PHILADELPHIA. Poe gives his tale “Raising the Wind; or, Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences” to Ezra Holden, co-editor of the Saturday Courier.

[1843] 26 AUGUST. Poe has Mrs. Clemm deliver a letter to Holden: “I am obliged to go to Richmond for a few weeks, on pressing business, and all the money I can raise I am forced to take with me. . . . If you can spare the amount for the article I left with you, please to do so . . . . Patterson, of The ‘Post,’ gave me, some weeks ago, for ‘The Black Cat’, 20$. I presume the article you have is worth as much — being longer &, I think, better” (Ostrom, [1974], pp. 521-22).

[1843] 28 AUGUST. Poe replies to Tomlin’s 9 August letter, providing a translation of Meek’s cipher. He explains that he was “at one time absolutely overwhelmed” by ciphers sent to test his powers and that consequently he has vowed 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.” Poe repeats his request for the slanderous letter Tomlin mentioned in his 2 July letter:

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 (L, 1:235-37).

[1843] SUMMER? SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK. Poe reputedly visits the resort at Saratoga, where he makes the acquaintance of John Barhyte and his wife Ann, a minor poetess. Mrs. Barhyte offers Poe advice on a poem he is writing, “The Raven” (Thomas [1978], pp. 707-11, 856-57). [page 436:]

[1843] BEFORE SEPTEMBER? PHILADELPHIA. Poe sells an unfavorable review of Longfellow’s dramatic poem The Spanish Student to George R. Graham (R. W. Griswold to Longfellow, 26 December 1843; Graham to Longfellow, 9 February 1844).

[1843] BEFORE SEPTEMBER? Rufus W. Griswold resigns the editorship of Graham’s (announcement in October number).

[1843] SEPTEMBER. Graham’s contains Poe’s signed article “Our Contributors, No. VIII: Fitz-Greene Halleck.” In his unsigned review of A Brief Account of the Discoveries and Results of the United States’ Exploring Expedition, he praises Jeremiah N. Reynolds, who organized the expedition (attribution in Hull, pp. 386-87).

[1843] SEPTEMBER. Godey’s Lady’s Book reviews Poe’s Prose Romances: “The reputation of this author is deservedly high for originality, independence, a perfect command of the English language, and a certain easy and assured mastery of every subject which he handles. The first number contains the ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ and the ‘Man that was Used Up,’ stories in totally different styles, showing versatility of power, but affording only a glimpse of the rich resources of his invention.”

[1843] SEPTEMBER. In his Ladies’ National Magazine Charles J. Peterson favorably reviews the Prose Romances (Pollin [1980], p. 24).

[1843] 9 SEPTEMBER. NEW YORK. In their New Mirror George P. Morris and Nathaniel P. Willis welcome Poe’s Prose Romances: “few writers of fiction are at all comparable with this fine author for clearness of plot and individuality of character.” The first number contains “a most thrilling story, entitled, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ ” as well as “a laughable sketch.” Morris and Willis reprint “The Man that was Used Up” to demonstrate the truth of their “commendatory remarks.”

[1843] 10 SEPTEMBER. JACKSON, TENNESSEE. Tomlin answers Poe’s 28 August letter. He is enclosing Wilmer’s 20 May letter to him. Although he fears that he has “violated somewhat the rules that govern correspondents,” he believes that Poe’s “great good sense” will protect his honor (W, 17:152).

[1843] 12-13 SEPTEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. In the Spirit of the Times Du Solle reprints “The Man that was Used Up” in two installments.

[1843] 13 SEPTEMBER. Poe writes James Russell Lowell in Boston: “Since I last wrote you I have suffered much from domestic and pecuniary troubles, [page 437:] 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” (L, 1:237-38).

[1843] LATE SEPTEMBER. BOSTON? Robert Carter writes Poe on Lowell’s behalf, enclosing five dollars of the ten due for his contributions to the Pioneer (Poe to Lowell, 19 October).

[1843] EARLY AUTUMN? PHILADELPHIA. Horace Wemyss Smith recalls:

I read the “Raven” long before it was published, and was in Mr. George R. Graham’s office when the poem was offered to him. Poe said that his wife and Mrs. Clemm were starving, and that he was in very pressing need of money. I carried him fifteen dollars, contributed by Mr. Graham, Mr. Godey, Mr. McMichael and others, who condemned the poem, but gave the money as a charity. An hour afterward he was found in a state of intoxication in Decatur street, where now is the alley running from the rear of Charles Joly’s, No. 9 South Seventh Street, then occupied as a tavern and kept by a man named Dicky Harbut, an Irish shoemaker (Smith quoted by Rosenbach, p. 296).

[Richard Harbord’s “Decatur Coffee House” was located at 6 Decatur Street, about half a block south of High (or Market) Street, between Sixth and Seventh. According to an advertisement in the Daily Chronicle, 22 May 1840, the establishment featured the “choicest Liquors,” with “Mint Juleps, Cobblers, Egg Noggs, &c, served in a superior style.”]

[1843] OCTOBER. Graham’s carries an announcement: “Mr. GRISWOLD . . . withdraws after the present number from his editorial connection, but will continue to be an occasional contributor.”

[1843] OCTOBER. The Cold Water Magazine, a temperance organ, begins to serialize Thomas Dunn English’s The Doom of the Drinker.

[The novel, containing a malicious caricature of Poe, was commissioned by Thomas C. Clarke for his Saturday Museum. Its publication in the Museum being delayed, Clarke, an ardent temperance advocate, permitted the prior serialization in the Cold Water Magazine, a monthly of limited circulation which was not in competition with his weekly. The novel occupied three entire numbers — October, November, December — with the attack on Poe appearing in October (Thomas [1979], pp. 261-62). See 25 NOVEMBER, 9, 23 DECEMBER.] [page 438:]

[1843] OCTOBER. NEW YORK. In the “Editor’s Table” of the Knickerbocker Magazine, Lewis Gaylord Clark quotes George D. Prentice, the editor of the Louisville, Kentucky, Daily Journal:

MR. PRENTICE, the well — known Louisville Journalist, is “down upon” a “gentleman of some smartness who rejoices in the euphonious name of POE,” (a correspondent of ours spells it “Poh!”) for terming CARLYLE, in one of his thousand-and-one MACGRAWLER critiques, “an ass.” The Kentucky poet and politician thus rejoins: “We have no more doubt that Mr. EDGAR A. POE is a very good judge of an ass, than we have that he is a very poor judge of such a man as THOMAS CARLYLE. He has no sympathies with the great and wonderful operations of CARLYLE’s mind, and is therefore unable to appreciate him. A blind man can describe a rainbow as accurately as Mr. POE can CARLYLE’s mind. What Mr. POE lacks in Carlyleism he makes up in jackassism. It is very likely that Mr. CARLYLE’s disciples are as poor judges of an ass as Mr. POE is of CARLYLE. Let them not abuse each other, or strive to overcome obstacles which are utterly irremovable. That Mr. POE has all the native tendencies necessary to qualify him to be a judge of asses, he has given repeated evidences to the public.”

[1843] 1 OCTOBER. SOUTH ATTLEBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS. Abijah M. Ide, Jr., an eighteen-year-old poet, writes Poe. He explains that he has received only a limited education “from the ‘Schoolmasters and Schoolma’ams’ of our District School,” and that by occupation he is a farmer:

I want but one thing: — an acquaintance and fellowship with other Poets. Men are brothers, and man must, if he be a Poet, have some to cherish and love. Now there are not in the regions around about Old Attleboro’ ten men who know Poetry from prose. — Not one who has any sympathy with the hopes and dreams of the poet’s heart. This utter loneliness and complete want of some in whom to confide such secrets as a Poet has, has driven me to seek friends among strangers.

You now understand my position, and why I have written to you; and if you will give me your hand in friendship, you will make one heart glad. Upon the next page I copy a few lines from some poems, that I have lately written and, I shall value your opinion of their merit, higher than that of others (W, 17:153-55).

[1843] 10 OCTOBER. PHILADELPHIA. Poe writes the attorney John B. Morris in Baltimore:

In a lot of ground, owned by yourself, and lying upon Clemm’s Lot, fronting upon Park Lane, Baltimore, Mrs Maria Clemm, now of this city, retains her right of dower, as the widow of the late William Clemm. The object of this letter is to ascertain if you will be willing to purchase the right.

Mrs Clemm is in excellent health, and may live forty years. At the same time she is in indigent circumstances, and would regard your purchase of the Right as a favor for which she would be grateful. May I ask you, on her behalf, what would be the value of the Right to yourself? (L, 2:703-04). [page 439:]

[1843] 11 OCTOBER. The Citizen Soldier contains an installment of George Lippard’s “Walnut Coffin Papers,” a sequel to his “Spermaceti Papers.” Professor “Peter Sun” [Charles J. Peterson] describes his literary compositions to the engraver “Phelix Phillegrim”:

“I turn out a first rate, Original American Novel — ‘Marion and his Sweet Potato’ — illustrative of the ‘Domestic Life of the Revolution.’ — Grey Ham here says I’m a genius —”

“And Misther Edgar Allan Poe — what does he say of you, Pather?” [asks Phillegrim.]

“Why — why — in fact — Poe — is — a — a — great reader of Bulwer, and — he looks at me — as if — he thought, you know — oh, d—n the thing, he knows I steal my stories — that’s all!”

“Is that all! What an inconsiderate crathur that Poe is to be shure!”

[1843] 13 OCTOBER. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS. Lowell writes Poe, enclosing the remaining five dollars due for his contributions to the Pioneer (Poe’s 19 October reply).

[1843] 14 OCTOBER. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier contains Poe’s “Raising the Wind; or, Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences.”

[1843] 19 OCTOBER. Poe replies to Lowell: “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.” Carter has written that Lowell has recovered his health, and Poe finds evidence in his correspondent’s handwriting that his vision has returned: “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.” Poe will await “with much anxiety” Lowell’s forthcoming volume of poetry: “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.” Longfellow has genius, but he does not equal Lowell “in the true spirit.” Poe has written “quite a long notice” of Longfellow’s Spanish Student for the December Graham’s: “The play is a poor composition, with some fine poetical passages” (L, 1:238-40).

[1843] 19 OCTOBER. Poe replies to Ide’s 1 October letter, giving him words of “friendship, approval and encouragement” (Ide to Poe, 2 November).

[1843] 23 OCTOBER. The Democratic Argus carries an advertisement announcing the “WILLIAM WIRT INSTITUTE LECTURES AND DEBATES” for the 1843-1844 [page 440:] season, “to be held in the usual place, viz, in the Juliana Street Church, between Fifth and Sixth, and Vine and Callowhill streets.” There will be “Eight Lectures and Two Debates, commencing on Tuesday Evening, October 24.” The advertisement lists the speakers engaged: “November 21 . . . Lecture, by Edgar A. Poe, Esq. Subject — American Poetry.”

[1843] 24 OCTOBER. In the Spirit of the Times Du Solle reports the commencement of the lectures: “Several powerful names are on the list. We notice Edgar A. Poe.”

[1843] NOVEMBER. Graham’s Magazine contains Poe’s review of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel Wyandotté.

[1843] EARLY NOVEMBER. NEW YORK. The Opal for 1844, edited by Nathaniel P. Willis, contains Poe’s sketch “Morning on the Wissahiccon” (publication noticed in the Philadelphia Pennsylvanian, 8 November).

[1843] 2 NOVEMBER. SOUTH ATTLEBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS. Ide replies to Poe’s 19 October letter: “I need not tell you that I am grateful for your willing friendship, approval and encouragement. You have given me some confidence in myself which I think may be a very good matter for a Poet.” Poe has apparently discussed his intention of establishing a magazine; Ide assures him: “I do not wish to pass judgment upon others, but no one has a more ardent wish than myself to see somewhat of a Revolution in American Literature. Our country supports too many of these Dish-water Magazines: — & reads too much blank paper! . . . I am glad to learn that you intend to attempt the overthrow of Humbug! If my hand can aid in the deed, it shall labor willingly. . . . I wish to learn something more of your plans whenever it pleases you to communicate them” (W, 17:156-57).

[1843] 15 NOVEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. George Lippard comments in the Citizen Soldier:

. . . it gives us pleasure to announce a “Lecture on American Poetry” by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., on Tuesday next. Poe was born a poet, his mind is stamped with the impress of genius. He is, perhaps, the most original writer that ever existed in America. Delighting in the wild and visionary, his mind penetrates the inmost recesses of the human soul, creating vast and magnificent dreams, eloquent fancies and terrible mysteries. Again, he indulges in a felicitous vein of humor, that copies no writer in the language, and yet strikes the reader with the genuine impression of refined wit; and yet again, he constructs such works as “Arthur Gordon Pym,” which disclose perceptive and descriptive powers that rival De Foe, combined with an analytical depth of reasoning in no manner inferior to Godwin or Brockden Brown. [page 441:]

It was Mr. Poe that made Graham’s Magazine what it was a year ago; it was his intellect that gave this now weak and flimsy periodical a tone of refinement and mental vigor, which all the imbecility of its conductors for a year past, could not entirely erase or utterly annihilate.

We can promise the audience a refined intellectual repast in the lecture of Edgar Allan Poe.

[1843] 16 NOVEMBER. Poe writes Joseph H. Hedges: “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” (L, 1:240).

[1843] 18 NOVEMBER. The Public Ledger and the Pennsylvania Inquirer carry an advertisement:

WM. WIRT INSTITUTE LECTURES. — The Third Lecture of the Course will be delivered in the JULIANNA STREET CHURCH, on TUESDAY EVENING NEXT, Nov. 21st, by EDGAR A. POE, Esq., author of the Gold-Bug, &c.; Subject, American Poetry. To commence at 7 1/2 o’clock. Tickets to the Course, to admit a Gentleman and two Ladies, $1; single Evening Tickets, to admit a Gentleman and two Ladies, 25 cents; single Evening Tickets, to admit one person, 12 1/2 cents. To be had of S. SNYDER LEIDY, No. 199 NORTH SIXTH Street, above Vine, and at the door on the evening of the Lecture.

[1843] 21 NOVEMBER. The advertisement is repeated in the Ledger and the Inquirer, both papers also according Poe’s lecture brief editorial notices. Robert Morris of the Inquirer observes: “A large and intellectual audience will no doubt be in attendance.”

[1843] 21 NOVEMBER. Poe lectures to an overflow audience, “hundreds” being “unable to gain admission” (United States Gazette, 8 January 1844).

[1843] 25 NOVEMBER. In the Saturday Courier the editors Ezra Holden and Andrew McMakin notice Poe’s lecture: “We regret that we could not attend, but we are told it was a very learned critique, marked by the severity of illustration for which the author is so ably known.” In the Saturday Museum Clarke comments:

Quite a large, and certainly highly intelligent audience, attended the Lecture on American Poetry, delivered by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., on Tuesday evening, before the William Wirt Literary Institute. We have not leisure this week to give even a brief outline of the lecture, the character of which may be inferred from the reputation which Mr. Poe has so extensively enjoyed, as a severe and impartial critic. Added to this important qualification, the fact of the Lecturer himself [page 442:] possessing talents, as a poet, of a high order, and therefore capable of more truly appreciating his subject, with great analytical power, and that command of language and strength of voice which enables a speaker to give full expression to whatever he may desire to say, it will readily be perceived that the Lecturer on Tuesday evening, combined qualities which are rarely associated in a public speaker. — With the exception of some occasional severity, which however merited, may have appeared somewhat too personal, the lecture gave general satisfaction, especially the portions in which the eloquent Sonnets of Judge Conrad, on “The Lord’s Prayer,” were introduced. The judicious reading of these created a marked sensation.

We hear it suggested that an attempt will be made to prevail on Mr. Poe to redeliver this Lecture in a more central place in the city. With some modification, it would bear repetition, and we dare say the press will unite in forwarding these views, notwithstanding the cool manner in which Mr. P. laid bare its system of almost universal and indiscrim[in]ate eulogy, bestowed alike upon anything and everything — “from the most elaborate quarto of Noah Webster, down to a penny edition of Tom Thumb.”

[1843] 25 NOVEMBER. The Museum commences a serial with this heading: “ORIGINAL TALE, / Written expressly for the ‘Philadel- / phia Saturday Museum.’/ [rule] / THE / DOOM OF THE DRINKER; / OR, / Revel and Retribution. / [rule] / ILLUSTRATED BY ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD, / AFTER ORIGINAL DESIGNS, BY FELIX O. C. / DARLEY.”

[English’s long-awaited novel, which Clarke had repeatedly announced both in his Museum editorials and in paid advertisements in other Philadelphia papers, was published in eleven consecutive installments, being concluded in the 3 February 1844 issue (Thomas [1979], pp. 262-63).]

[1843] 28 NOVEMBER. WILMINGTON, DELAWARE. The Delaware State Journal reports:

LECTURE BEFORE THE FRANKLIN LYCEUM. — The first lecture of the course which the members of the Franklin Lyceum have procured to be delivered before them this winter, will take place this evening at Temperance Hall. Edgar A. Poe, the lecturer, is well and favorably known in the literary world as a poet and magazine writer of high standing, whose powers in describing the thrilling and adventurous scenes of life are perhaps unrivalled. The subject is “American Poetry,” upon which, we understand, Mr. Poe has very peculiar notions, he will therefore probably be the more entertaining, as he will travel out of the usual track.

In another column the Journal carries an advertisement for tonight’s lecture, “Commencing at 1/2 past 7 o’clock . . . tickets 12 1/2 [cts] — 2 tickets will admit a gentleman and two ladies.”

[On 6 January 1844 the Philadelphia Spirit of the Times published a letter from a Wilmington correspondent who remarked: “Edgar A. Poe, Esq., [page 443:] delivered a lecture here several weeks since, on ‘American Poetry.’ Good, but rather severe.”]

[1843] 29 NOVEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. In the Citizen Soldier Lippard comments on Poe’s 21 November lecture:

The subject, “American Poetry,” was handled in a manner, that placed all the pseudo-critics, the Rev. Mr. Rufus Griswold, Esq. among others, to the blush, and showed the audience, how a man born a poet, could describe the true nature and object, [a]s well as the principles of poetry. The sentences of the Lecturer were vigorous, energetic and impassioned, his criticisms scathingly severe in some cases, and des[e]rvedly eulogistic in others. Ex-Judge Conrad, received a merited compliment from Mr. Poe, who recited the whole of his version of the Lord’s Prayer, and Mr. Morris of the Inquirer, was noticed with cordial approbation. As a general thing, the Lecture was received with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of applause, and it was agreed by all, that it was second to none, if not superior to all lectures ever delivered before the Wirt Institute.

[1843] DECEMBER. Graham’s contains Poe’s favorable review of Robert Tyler’s poem Death (attribution in Hull, pp. 388-89).

[1843] 9 DECEMBER. The Saturday Museum publishes the third installment of English’s The Doom of the Drinker, containing Chapter VI, entitled “The Revellers.” The novel’s protagonist Walter Woolfe attends a fictional drinking party at the home of his father’s friend John Purdon; one of the guests is Poe, unnamed but easily recognizable:

At the head of the table sat the master of the mansion. John Purdon was a rosy, burly man, apparently the very personification of good health. . . . The wine bottle never rested a moment in his hands, and he urged the tardy drinkers by voice and example.

Next to him sat a pale, gentlemanly looking personage [Poe], with a quick, piercing, restless eye, and a very broad and peculiarly shaped forehead. He would occasionally, under the excitement of the wine, utter some brilliant jests, which fell all unheeded on the ears of the majority of the drinkers, for they could appreciate no witticisms that were not coarse and open. This man seemed hardly in his element, and no doubt wished himself away at least a dozen times during the evening. He was an extraordinary being, one of the few who arise among us with a power to steal judiciously. He was a writer of tact, which is of a higher order than ordinary genius. But he was better known as a critic than as any thing else. His fine analytical powers, together with his bitter and apparently candid style, made him the terror of dunces and the evil spirit of wealthy blockheads, who create books without possessing brains. He made no ceremony though, in appropriating the ideas of others when it suited his turn, and, as a man, was the very incarnation of treachery and falsehood. [page 444:]

[1843] 23 DECEMBER. In the Museum Clarke discusses The Doom of the Drinker: “The effect of this narrative would be materially enhanced were we permitted to designate the different characters, and point out the particular scenes which are drawn from life. Among the daring adventures and exciting passages, there are more real, actual occurrences than we dare specify — far more, in fact, of painful, instructive reality, than is [are] to be found in the host of ordinary novels of the day.” The author is “one of the most remarkable men in the country, destined, at no distant period, to create a sensation.”

[The Museum never mentioned English by name, but his authorship was no secret. He had been identified in three numbers of the Cold Water Magazine, as well as in the influential Washington Daily National Intelligencer and in two important Philadelphia papers, the Pennsylvania Inquirer and the Public Ledger (Thomas [1979], pp. 266-68).]

[1843] 23 DECEMBER. NEWARK, DELAWARE. In the evening Poe delivers his lecture on “American Poetry” at the Newark Academy, a boys’ preparatory school (Moyne, pp. 1-19; see 2 JANUARY 1844).

[1843] 26 DECEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. Rufus W. Griswold writes Longfellow in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Mr Graham has requested me to write to you on the subject of contributing to the current volume of his magazine. It is a long time since the public have heard from you, and doubtless you have more than one finished poem in your portfolio. It is needless to say that anything you may send will be gladly received and promptly paid for by Mr Graham.

You may remember some conversation we once held at Cambridge in regard to Poe. He has recently written an elaborate review of your “Student,” in his customary vein, but if anything a little more personal and malignant than usual. This was offered to Graham before I left, and has since been given to him — so anxious is the poor critic for its appearance; but of course Mr Graham refused it. I mention the circumstance because it would be very like Poe, since he cannot find a publisher for his “criticism,” to attempt again to win your friendship with his praise (MH-H).

[Graham actually paid $30 for Poe’s review of The Spanish Student. He never intended to publish it; but in this letter, and his own 9 February 1844 letter to Longfellow, he used the implicit threat of its publication to prod a valued but reluctant contributor.]

[1843] 29 DECEMBER. READING, PENNSYLVANIA. John C. Myers, Samuel Williams, and William Greaff, Jr., write Poe, inviting him to deliver his lecture on “American Poetry” before the Mechanics’ Institute of Reading (Poe’s 1 March 1844 reply). [page 445:]

[1843] CA. 1843. PHILADELPHIA. Clarke’s young daughter, Miss Anne E. C. Clarke, frequently visits the Poe home, amusing Virginia by singing “the old song of Gaffer-Poe” (Miss Clarke quoted by Sartain, p. 216; cf. T. C. Clarke quoted by Gill, pp. 100-03).

[1843] CA. 1843. Miss Clarke recalls the visitors to her father’s residence at 56 South Twelfth Street: “Among the callers or stoppers-in would be ‘Tom’ as he was called, Dr. Thomas Dunn English, who, after being bon camarade with Hirst and Poe, quarrelled with one or both. All three of them happening in early one evening, they had to be kept apart lest they come to deadly strife. English was put in the parlour, Hirst in the library, where he was in the habit of lying prone on a lounge by the hour, dreaming dreams and seeing visions, and Poe was shown as usual into the dining-room” (quoted by Sartain, p. 226).

[1843] CA. 1843. A schoolgirl in the Spring Garden district recalls the Poe family:

Twice a day, on my way to and from school, . . . I had to pass their house, and in summer time often saw them. In the mornings Mrs. Clemm and her daughter would be generally watering the flowers, which they had in a bed under the windows. They seemed always cheerful and happy, and I could hear Mrs. Poe’s laugh before I turned the corner. Mrs. Clemm was always busy. I have seen her of mornings clearing the front yard, washing the windows and the stoop, and even white-washing the palings. You would notice how clean and orderly everything looked. She rented out her front room to lodgers, and used the middle room, next to the kitchen, for their own living room or parlor. They must have slept under the roof (quoted by Weiss [1907], pp. 95-97).

[1843] CA. 1843. Miss Lydia Hart Garrigues, a young girl living on North Seventh Street, recalls Poe:

Dozens of times have I seen him [Poe] pass my father’s windows going down Seventh St., into the city. He wore a Spanish cloak; they, at that time, were much used instead of overcoats. I was always impressed with the grave and thoughtful aspect of his face. He looked to be much older than I now know him to have been. Tho’ little over thirty he had the appearance of middle age. To his neighbors his name meant very little. It was not until after “The Raven” was published, and that was subsequent to his removal to New York, that we knew him as a literary figure. Then, we felt sorry we had not taken more notice of him. He, his wife and Mrs. Clemm, kept to themselves. They had the reputation of being very reserved, — we thought because of their poverty and his great want of success. We knew he did not pay his rent to Mr. Alburger, who, however, was not disposed to cause him distress (quoted by Phillips, 1:827). [page 446:]

[1843] CA. 1843. The artist A. C. Smith, 86 Chestnut Street, paints a portrait of Poe, which is then engraved for use in the “Our Contributors” series of Graham’s Magazine (Poe to Lowell, 30 March 1844).







[S:1 - TPL, 1987] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Poe Log (D. R. Thomas and D. K. Jackson) (Chapter 07 [Part 01])