Text: James A. Harrison, “Chapter 03,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Vol. XVII: Letters (1902), 17:41-67


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[page 41:]

CHAPTER III.

JANUARY, 1837 - DECEMBER, 1840.

PHILADELPHIA: ARTHUR GORDON PYM; EDITOR OF BURTON’S “GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE;” TALES OF THE GROTESQUE AND ARABESQUE.

——————

WHITE TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

Jan. 17,’37.

MR. POE, — If it be possible, without breaking in on my previous arrangements, I will get more than the 1st portion of Pym in — tho’ I much fear that will be impossible.

If I had read even 10 lines of Magruder’s manuscript, it would have saved me the expense of putting it in type. — It is all [illegible] — bombast. He will have to live a little longer before he can write well enough to please the readers of the M.

Touching Carey’s piece, gratitude to him for pecuniary assistance, obliges me to insert it.

You are certainly as well aware as I am that the last $20 I advanced to you was in consideration of what you were to write for me by the piece.

I also made you a promise on Saturday that I would do something more for you to-day, — and I never make even a promise without intending to perform it, — and though it is entirely out of my power to send you up any thing this morning, yet I will do something more for you [page 42:] before night, or early to-morrow, — if I have to borrow it from my friends.

Truly yrs —  
T. W. W.

ANTHON TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

NEW YORK, June 1, 1837.

DEAR SIR, — I owe you an apology for not having answered your letter of the 27th sooner, but I was occupied at the time with matters that admitted of no delay, and was compelled therefore to lay your communication on the table for a day or two. I hope you will find what is written below satisfactory. Do not wait to pay me a formal visit, but call and introduce yourself.

Yours truly,
CHAS. ANTHON.

E. A. POE Esqr.

1. Isaiah 34-10

1   2   3   4   5
לכצח   כעח’ם   א’ז   עבר   בה
1   2   3   4   5
Leneçah   neçahim   ên   over   bah

1. “For an eternity”

2. “of eternities”

3. “not ”

4. “moving about”

5. “in it.”

“For an eternity of eternities (there shall) not (be anyone) moving about in it.” The literal meaning of bah is, “in it,” not “through it.” The participle over refers to one moving to and fro, or up and down, and is the same term which is rendered “current,” as an epithet of money, in Genesis 23.16. The prophet means that there shall be [page 43:] no marks of life in the land,, no living being there, no one moving up and down in it.”

2. Ezekiel 35.7.

1   2   3   4   5   6
[[Hebrew]]   [[Hebrew]]   [[Hebrew]]   [[Hebrew]]   [[Hebrew]]   [[Hebrew]]
1   2   3   4   5   6
Wenathatti   eth-har   seir   leshimemah   ushemamah   wehikhratti
7   8   9
[[Hebrew]]   [[Hebrew]]   [[Hebrew]]
7   8   9
mimmennu   over   washabh

1. “and I will give”

2. “the mountain”

3. “Seir ”

4. “for a desolation”

5. “and a desolation”

6. “and I will cut off ”

7. “from it” —

8. “him that goeth”

9. “and him that returneth.”

“and I will give mount Seir for an utter desolation, and will cut off from it him that passeth and repasseth therein.”

The reference here is the same as in the previous passage, and the inhabitants of the land are referred to, as moving about therein, and actively employed in the business of life. The meaning of “passing and repassing” is sanctioned by Gesenius, s. v. vol. z, p. 570, Leo’s transl. Compare Zachariah 7.14. and 9.8. There is something analogous in the Hebrew-Greek phrase that occurs in Acts 9.28, Και ην με ‘Ιερονσαλημ. “and he was with them in Jerusalem, coming in and going out.” The Latin wersaw tit hits it off exactly. The meaning is that Sail, the new convert, was on intimate terms with the true believers in Jerusalem, moving about amongst them, to and fro, or in and out.

C. A.

E. A. POE Esqr.

[page 44:]

POE TO N. C. BROOKS, EDITOR OF “AMERICAN MUSEUM.”

[Ingram.]

PHILADELPHIA, September 4, 1838.

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

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

The merit, too, of his tame propriety and faultlessness of style should be candidly weighed. He should be compared with Addison, something being hinted about imitation, and Sir Roger de Coverley should be brought up in judgment. A bold and a priori investigation of Irving’s claims would strike home, take my word for it. The American literary [page 45:] world never saw anything of the kind yet. Seeing, therefore, the opportunity of making a fine hit, I am unwilling to hazard your fame by a failure, and a failure would assuredly be the event were I to undertake the task at present.

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

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

Very truly yours,  
EDGAR A. POE.

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

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

E. A. P.

BURTON TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

PHILA. May 10, 1839,
Saturday.  

EDGAR A. POE, Esq.

MY DEAR SIR, — I have given your proposals a fair consideration. I wish to form some such engagement as [page 46:] that which you have proposed, and know of no one more likely to suit my views than yourself. The expenses of the Magazine are already wofully heavy; more so than my circulation warrants. I am certain that my expenditure exceeds that of any publication now extant, including the monthlies which are double in price. Competition is high, — new claimants are daily rising. I am therefore compelled to give expensive plates, thicker paper, and better printing than my antagonists, or allow them to win the goal. My contributors cost me something handsome, and the losses upon credit, exchange, etc. are becoming frequent and serious. I mentioned this list of difficulties as some slight reason why I do not close with your offer, which is indubitably liberal, without any delay.

Shall we say ten dollars per week for the remaining portion of this year? — Should we remain together, which I see no reason to negative, your proposition shall be in force for 1840. A month’s notice to be given on either side previous to a separation.

Two hours a day, except occasionally, will, I believe, be sufficient for all required, except in the production of any article of your own. At all events, you could easily find time for any other light avocation — supposing that you did not exercise your talents in behalf of any publication interfering with the prospects of the G. M.(1)

I shall dine at home to-day at 3. If you will cut your muton with me, good. If not, write or see me at your leisure.

I am, my dear Sir,  
Your obdt Servt.,  
W. E. BURTON.

POE TO BURTON, 1839.

See Vol. I., Biography, pages 163-167.

[page 47:]

HEATH TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

RICHMOND, 12. Sept. 1839.

DEAR SIR, — Since the receipt of yours of the 5 inst. I have been so exceedingly occupied and withal so very much indisposed, that I could not until within the last day or two, take a peep into the interesting magazine which you were good enough to send me. I have read your article “The Fall of the House of Usher” with attention, and I think it among the best of your compositions of that class which I have seen. A man need not have a critical judgement nor a very refined taste to decide, that no one could have written the tale, without possessing great scope of imagination, vigorous thought, and a happy command of language; but I am sure you will appreciate my candor when I say that I never could feel much interest in that class of compositions. I mean that I never could experience pleasure in reading tales of horror and mystery however much the narrative should be dignified by genius. They leave a painful and melancholy impression on my mind, and I do not perceive their tendency to improve the heart.

I have had a conversation with White since the receipt of your letter and took the liberty to hint to him your convictions of an unfriendly spirit manifested on his part towards you. I am happy to inform you that he disclaims the existence of any unkind feeling, on the contrary professes that your prosperity and happiness would yield him pleasure. He is not aware of having spoken or written any thing with a design to injure you or any thing more in censure or disparagement than what he has said to you in person when you resided here. I am inclined to think that you entirely mistake the man if you suppose that a particle of malignity lurks in his composition. My long acquaintance with him justifies me in saying that I have known few men more disposed to cherish kindly and benevolent [page 48:] feelings towards their fellowmen than himself He informs me that he will with pleasure admit a notice of the “Gentleman’s Magazine” in the Messenger and if possible in the October number. He is apprehensive however that the “Fall of the House of Usher” would not only occupy more space than he can conveniently spare (the demands upon his columns being very great) but that the subject matter is not such as would be acceptable to a large majority of his readers. He doubts whether the readers of the Messenger have much relish for tales of the German School although written with great power and ability, and in this opinion I confess to you frankly, I am strongly inclined to concur. I doubt very much whether tales of the wild, improbable and terrible class, can ever be permanently popular in this country. Charles Dickens it appears to me has given the final death blow to writings of that description. Of course there is nothing I could say on that subject which can or ought to influence your own mind. There is no disputing in matters of taste, and them is no infallible standard to which men consider themselves obliged to defer and surrender their own judgments.

It gives me sincere pleasure to understand that your own good sense and the influence of high and noble motives have enabled you to overcome a seductive and dangerous treatment which too often prostrates the wisest and best by its fatal grasp. The cultivation of such high intellectual powers as you possess cannot fail to earn for you a solid reputation in the literary world. In the department of criticism especially, I know few who can claim to be your superiors in this country. Your dissecting knife, if vigorously employed, would serve to rid us of much of that silly trash and silly sentimentality with which puerile and conceited authors, and gain-seeking book sellers are continually poisoning our intellectual food. I hope in relation to all such you will continue to wield mace without “fear, favor or affection.”

I subscribe myself sincerely your well-wisher,  
(Signature missing). [JAS. E. HEATH.]

[page 49:]

COOKE TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

MY DEAR SIR., — I received your friendly letter a long time ago but have scarcely been at home since its receipt. My wife enticed me off to visit her kins-people in the country, and I saw more of guns & horses and dogs than of pens and paper. Amongst dinners, barbecues, snipe shooting, riding parties &c. I could not gain my brains into the humour for writing to you or to any body else. I reached home two days ago, & now “hasten slowly” to assure you of my undiminished regard & respect for you — and to tell you (as above) the reasons of my neglect in leaving yr. letter so long unanswered.

I do not believe you ingenuous or sincere when you speak in the terms which you use touching the value of my rambling compositions — my contributions to the Messenger &c — yet it of course cannot be disagreeable to me to find myself considered worth flattering. I will send you occasionally — if possible — such matters as I may consider worth inserting in the Genns. Magae with pleasure; I cannot promise anything like the systematic contribution which I was guilty of in White’s case, for the “madness of scribbling” which once itched & tickled at my fingers-ends has been considerably cured by a profession & matrimony — money-cares and domestic squabbles — buying beef & mutton, and curing my child’s croups, colicks, &c. The fever with which I was afflicted has given way to a chill — or, as romantic young persons say, “The golden dream is broken.”

As to Ligeia, of which you ask my opinion, (doubtless without any intention of being guided by any person’s but your own) I think it very fine. There is nothing unintelligible to my mind in the “sequel” (or conclusion) but I am impertinent enough to think that it (the conclusion) might be mended. I of course “took” your “idea” throughout. The whole piece is but a [page 50:] sermon from the text of “Joseph Glanvil” which you cap it with — and your intent is to tell a tale of the “Mighty will” contending with & finally vanquishing Death. The struggle is vigorously described — and I appreciated every sentence as I advanced, until the lady Ligeia takes possession of the deserted quarters (I write like a butcher) of the Lady Rowena. There I was shocked by a violation of the ghostly proprieties-so to speak-and wondered how the Lady Ligeia — a wandering essence — could, in quickening the body of the Lady Rowena (such is the idea) become suddenly the visible, bodily, Ligeia. If Rowena’s bodily form had been retained as a shell or case for the disembodied Lady Ligeia, and you had only become aware gradually that the blue Saxon eye of the “Lady Rowena of Tremaine” grew daily darker with the peculiar, intense expression of the “look” which hiid belonged to Ligeia — that a mind of grander powers, a soul of more glowing fires occupied the quickened body and gave an old familiar expression to its motions — if you had brooded and meditated upon the change until proof accumulated upon proof, making wonder certainty, and then, in the moment of some strangest of all evidence of the transition, broken out into the exclamation which ends the story — the effect would not have been lessened, and the “ghostly proprieties” would, I think, have been better observed. You may have some theory of the story, or transition, however, which I have not caught.

As for your compositions of this class, generally, I consider them, as Mr. Crummles would say, “phenomenous.” You write as I sometimes dream when asleep on a heavy supper (not heavy enough for nightmare). — The odd ignorance of the name, lineage, &c. of Ligeia — of the circumstances, place, &c. under which, & where, you first saw her — with which you begin your narrative, is usual, & not at all wondered at, in dreams. Such dimness of recollection does not whilst we dream excite any surprise or diminish the vraisemblable aspect of the [page 51:] strange matters that we dream of. It is only when we wake that we wonder that so material an omission in the thread of the events should have been unnoticed by the mind at a time when it could dream in other respects so plausibly — with such detailed minuteness — with such self-possession.

But I must come to a conclusion, as I tire myself with this out-of-the-way sort of writing.

I will subscribe to the Gentlemn’s Mag. shortly & also “contribute” to it.

Yrs. sincerely  
P. P. COOKE.

CHARLESTOWN, Sep. 16, 1839

P. S. — I would not say “saith Lord Verulam” — it is out of the way. I am very impertinent.

POE TO COOKE.

PHILADELPHIA, September 21, 1839.

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

I say that I read your letter with delight. In fact I am aware of no delight greater than that of feeling one’s self appreciated (in such wild matters as “Ligeia”) by those in whose judgment one has faith. You read my most intimate spirit “like a book,” and with the single exception of D‘Israeli, I have had communication with no other person who does. Willis had [page 52:] a glimpse of it — Judge Tucker saw about one half way through — but your ideas are the very echo of my own. I am very far from meaning to flatter — I am flattered and honored. Beside me is now lying a letter from Washington Irving in which he speaks with enthusiasm of a late tale of mine, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” — and in which he promises to matte his opinion public, upon the first opportunity, — but from the bottom of my heart I assure you, I regard his best word as but dust in the balance when weighed with those discriminating opinions of your own, which teach me that you feel and perceive.

Touching “Ligeia” you are right — all right — throughout. The gradual perception of the fact that Ligeia lives again in the person of Rowena is a far loftier and more thrilling idea than the one I have em bodied. It offers in my opinion, the widest possible scope to the imagination — it might be rendered even sublime. And this idea was mine — had I never written before I should have adopted it — but then there is “Morella.” Do you remember there the gradual conviction on the part of the parent that the spirit of the first Morella tenants the person of the second? It was necessary, since “Morella” was written, to modify “Ligeia.” I was forced to be content with a sudden half consciousness, on the part of the narrator, that Ligeia stood before him. One point I have not fully carried out — I should have intimated that the will did not perfect its intention — there should have been a relapse — a final one — and Ligeia (who had only succeeded in so much as to convey an idea of the truth to the narrator) should be at length entombed as Rowena — the bodily alterations having gradually faded away. [page 53:]

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

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

It makes me laugh to hear you speaking about “romantic young persons” as of a race with whom, for the future, you have nothing to do. You need not at tempt to shake off or to banter off Romance. It is an evil you will never get rid of to the end of your days. [page 54:] It is a part of yourself — a portion of your soul. Age will only mellow it a little, and give it a holier tone. I will give your contributions a hearty welcome, and the choicest position in the magazine.

Sincerely yours,  
EDGAR A. POE.

IRVING TO POE.

[The Century Magazine.]

NEWBURG, November 6, 1839.

DEAR SIR, — The magazine you were so kind as to send me, being directed to New York, instead of Tarrytown, did not reach me for some time. This, together with an unfortunate habit of procrastination, must plead my apology for the tardiness of my reply. I have read your little tale of “William Wilson” with much pleasure. It is managed in a highly picturesque style, and the singular and mysterious interest is well sustained throughout. I repeat what I have said in regard to a previous production, which you did me the favor to send me, that I cannot but think a series of articles of like style and merit would be extremely well received by the public.

I could add for your private ear, that I think the last tale much the best, in regard to style. It is simpler. In your first you have been too anxious to present your picture vividly to the eye, or too distrustful of your effect, and have laid on too much coloring. It is erring on the best side — the side of luxuriance. That tale might be improved by relieving the style from some of the epithets. There is no danger of destroying its graphic effect, which is powerful. With best wishes for your success,

I am, my dear sir, yours respectfully,  
WASHINGTON IRVING.

[page 55:]

POE TO WILLIAM POE.

[Mrs. W. Y. Dill: MS.]

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 15, 1840.

DEAR WILLIAM, — Owing to a temporary absence from town, I did not receive your welcome letter of the 28th of July until this morning. I now hasten to reply, and in the first place let me assure you that, if I have not lately written, it is rather because I have been overwhelmed by worldly cares, which left me scarce a moment for thought, that I do feel for you the kindliest affection as well as deep gratitude for the services yourself & brothers have so often rendered me. Herewith I send you a Prospectus of my contem plated Magazine. I believe you know that my connexion with the Sou. Messenger was merely that of Editor. I had no proprietary interest in it, and my movements were therefore much impeded. The situation was disagreeable to me in every respect. The drudgery was excessive, the salary was contemptible. In fact, I soon found that whatever reputation I might personally gain, this reputation would be all. I stood no chance of bettering my pecuniary condition, while my best energies were wasted in the service of an illiterate and vulgar, although well meaning man, who had neither the capacity to appreciate my labors, nor the will to reward them. For these reasons I left him & entered first into an engagement with the New York Review & afterwards with The Gentleman’s Magazine, writing occasionally for different journals, my object being merely to keep my head above water as regards money, until a good opportunity should appear of establishing a magazine of my own, in which I should be able to carry out [page 56:] my plans to full completion & could in time have the satisfaction of feeling that my exertions be used to my own advantage.

I believe that the plans I here speak of and some of which you will find details in the Prospectus are well [illegible] will meet with the hearty support of the most honorable & intelligent portion of the community. Should I be able to bring them fairly before the public, I feel assured that my fortune is made. The ambition which actuates me [illegible] now to be no ordinary nor unworthy sentiment, & knowing this, I take pride in earnestly soliciting your support & that of your brothers & friends. If I fully succeed in my purpose, I will not fail to produce some lasting effect upon the growing literature of the country, while I shall establish for myself individually a name which that country “will not willingly let die.” It is upon the South that I chiefly rely for aid in the undertaking & I have every hope that it will not fail me in my time of need. Yet the difficulties, which I have to overcome are great and I acknowledge to you that my prospects depend very much upon getting together a subscription list previously to the 1st of December. If by this day I can obtain 500 names, the work cannot fail to proceed; I have no fear of the result. The friendship you have always evinced, the near relationship which exists between us, & the kind offer in your last letter, all warrant me in hoping that you will exert your whole influence for me in Augusta. Will you oblige me by acting as my agent for the Penn Magazine in your city this letter being your authority? If I am not mistaken you always acted in that capacity for the Messenger. I will write a few lines also by this mail to your brother Robt, with a prospectus as you suggest, & also to Washington at Macon. [page 57:]

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

Very truly  
E. A. P.

TO
  WM. POE.
  Augusta Ga.

CHIVERS TO POE.

August 27, 1840.

See Vol. I., Biography, pages 190-191.

POE TO TOMLIN.(1)

PHILADELPHIA, Sep. 16, 1840.

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

What you say about “The Devil’s Visit to St [page 58:] Dunstan” gives me great pleasure. I was thinking in what manner I should ask of you some such favor as you propose in sending me this — true history — but was afraid of making too many demands at once upon your good nature. Your offer, therefore, is most a propos. I shall look anxiously for the tale, and will assuredly be proud to give it a conspicuous place in the opening number of the Magazine.

With high respect,  
I am, Yr ob St.  
EDGAR A. POE.

JNO TOMLIN Esqe

PROSPECTUS

of the Penn Magazine, a monthly literary journal, to be edited and published in the city of Philadelphia,

By EDGAR A. POE.

To The Public:

Since resigning the conduct of the Southern Literary Messenger, at the commencement of its third year, I have had always in view the establishment of a Magazine which should retain some of the chief features of that journal, abandoning or greatly modifying the rest. Delay, however, has been occasioned by a variety of causes, and not until now have I found myself at liberty to attempt the execution of the design.

I will be pardoned for speaking more directly of The Messenger. Having in it no proprietary rights, my objects, too being at variance in many respects with those of its very worthy owner, I found difficulty in stamping upon its pages that individuality which I believe essential to the full success of — all similar publications. In regard to their permanent influences, it [page 59:] appears to me that a continuous, definite character, and a marked certainty of purpose are desiderata of vital importance, and (I cannot help believing that these requisites are) only attainable when one mind alone has the general direction of the undertaking. Experience has rendered obvious, what might indeed have been demonstrated a priori; that in founding a Magazine of my own lies my sole chance of carrying out to completion whatever peculiar intentions I may have entertained.

To those who remember the early days of the Southern periodical in question it will be scarcely necessary to say that its main feature was a somewhat overdone causticity in its department of Critical Notices of new books. The Penn Magazine will retain this trait of severity in so much only as the calmest yet sternest sense of justice will permit. Some years since elapsed may have mellowed down the petulance without interfering with the rigor of the critic. Most surely they have not yet taught him to read through the medium of a publisher’s will, nor convinced him that the interests of letters are unallied with the interests of truth. It shall be the first and chief purpose of the Magazine now proposed to become known as one where may be found at all times, and upon all subjects, an honest and a fearless opinion. It shall be a leading object to assert in precept, and to maintain in practice the rights, while in effect it demonstrates the advantages, of an absolutely independent criticism — - a criticism self-sustained; guiding itself only by the purest rules of Art, analyzing and urging these rules as it applies them; holding itself aloof from all personal bias; acknowledging no fear save that of outraging the right; yielding no point either to the vanity of the [page 60:] author, or to the assumptions of antique prejudice, or to the involute and anonymous cant of the Quarterlies, or to the arrogance of those organized cliques which, hanging like nightmares upon American literature, manufacture, at the nod of our principal booksellers, a pseudo-public-opinion by wholesale. These are objects of which no man need be ashamed. They are purposes, moreover, whose novelty at least will give them interest. For assurance that I will fulfil them in the best spirit and to the very letter, I appeal with confidence to the many thousands of my friends, and especially of my Southern friends, who sustained me in the Messenger, where I had but a very partial opportunity of completing my own plans.

In respect to the other features of the Penn Magazine, a few words here will suffice. It will endeavor to support the general interests of the republic of letters, without reference to particular regions; regarding the world at large as the true audience of the author. Beyond the precincts of literature, properly so called, it will leave in better hands the task of instruction upon all matters of very grave moment. Its aim chiefly shall be to please, and this through means of versatility, originality and pungency. It may be as well here to observe that nothing said in this Prospectus should be construed into a design of sullying the Magazine with any tincture of the buffoonery, scurrility, or profanity, which are the blemish of some of the most vigorous of the European prints. In all branches of the literary department, the best aid, from the highest and purest sources, is secured.

To the mechanical execution of the work the greatest attention will be given which such a matter can require. In this respect it is proposed to surpass, [page 61:] by very much, the ordinary Magazine style. The form will nearly resemble that of the Knickerbocker; the paper will be equal to that of The North American Review; the pictorial embellishments will be numerous, and by the leading artists of the country, but will be introduced only in the necessary illustration of the text.

The Penn Magazine will be published in Philadelphia, on the first of each month, and will form, half-yearly, a volume of about 500 pages. The price will be $5 per annum, payable in advance, or upon the receipt of the first number, which will be issued on the first of January, 1841. Letters addressed to the Editor and Proprietor,

EDGAR A. POE.

TOMLIN TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

JACKSON, TENNESSEE,
Nov. 22, 1840.  

EDGAR A. POE Esq.

MY DEAR SIR, — As the time will soon be here when the subscribers in this place will have to pay for your Magazine, I must beg of you, at some early period to inform me, if Tennessee money is current in the ordinary business transactions of your city. It is possible, that I may thro’ the Branch of the Union Bank at this place, obtain a check on some one of your Banks. If Virginia, N. Carolina or S. Carolina money is more current in Philadelphia, than Tennessee, I shall certainly obtain the one that you may mention, as preferable.

Will I not have to lay myself under an obligation to you, for some emendation of the Devil’s Visit? I look with much anxiety for its appearance in the first number of your new work. I will not, I know be disappointed. [page 62:] The abiding interest which I feel for your welfare, gives at all times the most cheering hopes of your success. It cannot be that you will not succeed! For the warmhearted Southerners, by whom you are known, will not let the Work die for the want of patronage. They are your friends — for they know you well, and will sustain you.

Is W. Gilmore Simms of Charleston doing anything for you? Surely he is! He can aid you materially, and I have no doubt but what he will. Some years ago, he was my friend and gave me much good advice. The most pleasant walks I have ever taken in the fields of Literature, were made in his company. Since then he has far outstripped me, and I am where he was when he first commenced to ramble among the genii of Fiction. Has Simms’s last work, “The Black Riders of the Santa” been published?

When I was a boy, I used to love to hear the Author of “Millechampe” talk. He said much to interest one of my years. As I grew older, my reverence for the man increased, until in my own mind, I am persuaded, that I shall “never look upon his like again.”

In a little while, some two or three months hence, I purpose visiting Nashville. While there I shall certainly procure other names to your work.

I am Sincerely  
Your friend,  
JNO. TOMLIN.(1)

POE TO THOMAS.

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 23, 1840

MY DEAR THOMAS, — I only received yours of the sixth about an hour ago, having been out of town for [page 63:] the last ten days. Believe me, I was very glad to hear from you — for in truth I had given you up. I did not get the [St. Louis] “Bulletin” you sent, but saw the notice at the Exchange. The “Bulletin” has always been very kind to me, and I am at a loss to know who edits it — will you let me into this secret when you write again i’ Neither did, Howard Pinckney” come to hand. Upon receipt of your letter, just now, I called at Congress Hall — but no books. Mr. Bateman had been there, and gone, forgetting to leave them. I shall get them on his return. Meantime, and long ago, I have read the novel, with its predecessors. I like “Howard P[inckney]” very well — better than “E[ast] and W[est],” and not nearly so well as “C[linton] B [radshaw].” You give yourself up to your own nature (which is a noble one, upon my soul) in “Clinton Bradshaw;” but in “Howard Pinckney” you abandon the broad rough road for the dainty by-paths of authorism. In the former you are interested in what you write, and write to please, pleasantly; in the latter, having gained a name, you write to sustain it, and the effort becomes apparent. This consciousness of reputation leads you so frequently to those literary and other disquisitions about which we quarreled at Studevant’s. If you would send the public opinion to the devil, forgetting that a public existed, and write from the natural promptings of your own spirit, you would do wonders. In a word, abandon is wanting in “Howard Pinckney,” — and when I say this you must know that I mean a high compliment — for they to whom this very abandon may be safely suggested are very few indeed, and belong to the loftier class of writers. I would say more of “Howard Pinckney,” but nothing in the [page 64:] shape of criticism can be well said in petto, and I intend to speak fully of the novel in the first number of the “Penn Magazine” — which I am happy to say will appear in January. I may just observe now, however, that I pitied you when I saw the blunders, typographical and Frostigraphical — although to do Frost justice, I do not think he looked at the proofs at all.

Thank you a thousand times for your good wishes and kind offers. I shall wait anxiously for the promised article. I should like to have it, if possible, in the first sheet, which goes to press early in December. But I know that I may depend upon you, and therefore say no more upon this head. For the rest, your own experience and friendship will suggest the modes by which you may serve me in St. Louis. Perhaps, you may be able to have the accompanying “Prospectus” (which you will see differs from the first) inserted once or twice in some of the city papers — if you can accomplish this without trouble I shall be greatly obliged to you. Have you heard that that illustrious graduate of St. John’s College, Cambridge (Billy Barlow [Burton]), has sold his magazine to Graham, of the “Casket“‘?

Mrs. Clemm and Virginia unite with me in the kindest remembrance to yourself and sister — with whom your conversation (always turning upon the “one loved name”) has already made us all so well acquainted. How long will it be before I see you again? Write immediately.

Yours most truly,  
E. A. P.

[page 65:]

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

ST. LOUIS, December 7, 1840.

MY DEAR POE, — Yours of the 23 of last month I received yesterday. I thought if I sat down to weave a tale for you that procrastination or a better apology might keep me from finishing the MS. till it was too late for your first number, for which you seemed to wish the communication. I therefore, as you like my “adventures of a Poet” — you remember I read it to you — thought I would give you extracts from it. Inclosed I send them. The “steamboat story” which I gave you is, you know, an extract from the same MS.

I am obliged to you for your good opinion of “Howard Pinckney” but more particularly for that of myself. I regret you do not like H. P as much as C B,(1) but I am not certain that I do myself — our first book like our first love ever has the warmest place in our affections.

About your magazine: I rejoice to know that you will have it out on the first. I look to its appearance with great pleasure, for I believe the principles expressed in your prospectus will be carried out in your practice. I went today to have an editorial notice &c taken of it and you, but found my friend out; to-morrow on my way to the office with this letter I will see to it and duly send you a paper.

There is a magazine agent here who to all appearances is honest; he is a one-legged man on a crutch and I would fain therefore believe so. I called on him today. He does a good business I should judge. He tells me that he receives two hundred copies of the “Ladies Companion” for instance, fifty of the “Knickerbocker” &c. [page 66:] He wrote his “terms” off for me at my request, which I herewith copy from his MS. lying before me. By the bye it seems there are two of these — agents.

“Terms of Agency. — So much per cent on yearly subscribers procured by the agents. The executive agency for this city to be given to them. If the publication can be put low enough by the publishers they will order so many copies on their own account each month payment for which to be made monthly or quarterly — It would be necessary to have written or printed authority to act as agents. The work to be put up very securely with strong envelopes secured well with twine, to prevent its being damaged by the mail; and to be mailed with as much punctuality as possible at the earliest possible moment after it comes from the press.

FOWZER & WOODWARD,  
39 Chestnut St St Louis.”

There, Poe, I give you Mr. Fowzer’s bulletin of terms as I received them. I truly think that he will do well for the “Penn” here. I hope that with Harrison’s election better times will come unto us who like the spider weave the web from our own brains to catch the flies. Let me hear from you. I will negotiate “terms” for you if you say so with the aforesaid Fowxer and Woodward.

The leading editor of the Bulletin is named Churchill. Lately he has been elected to the legislature and a Mr Cady has charge in C’s absence at Jefferson City the capital of this state. C—— is a good fellow — so I believe is Cady. Perhaps the most influential paper here is the “Republican.” I had the honor of being a guest at a public dinner given him (the editor) the other day, or rather the other night here, on which occasion I read the toast and made a speech &c. I will get him also to notice you. I write this in my sister’s room; she is indeed gratified at the kind manner in which Mrs. Clemm and your Lady mention her. She sends her regards while I [page 67:] look up from the paper to say that your letter is just as you talk.

In the spring I hope to take you by the hand — speaking of “taking” can you tell me how Howard Pinckney took in the “Penn” City. My kindest remembrances to your mother and lady.

F. W. THOMAS.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 46:]

1.  Gentleman’s Magazine.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 57:]

1.  This letter to John Tomlin, Esgre., of Jackson, Tennessee, is written upon the second blank page of a “Prospectus of the Penn Magazine,” the general plan or outline being printed on the first page. Both letter and Prospectus are here given through the courtesy of Mr. F. R. Halsey.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 62:]

1.  Tomlin is called by W. M. Griswold (“Selections from the Correspondence of R. W. Griswold”) “the Mississippi poet.” — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 65:]

1.  H. Pinckney as much as Clinton Bradshaw.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - CWEAP, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Complete Works of E. A. Poe (Vol. 17 - Letters) (J. A. Harrison) (Chapter 03)