Text: Edgar Allan Poe to John Allan — December 22, 1828 (LTR-008)


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Fortress Monroe (Va)
December 22d 1828 —

Dear Sir;

I wrote you shortly before leaving Fort Moultrie & am much hurt at receiving no answer. Perhaps my letter has not reached you & under that supposition I will recapitulate its contents. It was chiefly to sollicit [[sic]] your interest in freeing me from the Army of the U. S. in which, (as Mr Lay’s letter from Lieut Howard informed you) — I am at present a soldier. I begged that you would suspend any judgement you might be inclined to form, upon many untoward circumstances, until you heard of me again — & begged you to give my dearest love to Ma & solicit her not to let my wayward disposition wear away the affection she used to have for me. I mentioned that all that was necessary to obtain my discharge from the army was your consent in a letter to Lieut J. Howard, who has heard of you by report, & the high character given you by Mr Lay; this being all that I asked at your hands, I was hurt at your declining to answer my letter. Since arriving at Fort Moultrie [page 2:] Lieut Howard has given me an introduction to Col: James House of the 1rst Arty to whom I was before personally known only as a soldier of his regiment. He spoke kindly to me. told me that he was personally acquainted with my Grandfather Genl Poe, with yourself & family, & reassured me of my immediate discharge upon your consent. It must have been a matter of regret to me, that when those who were strangers took such deep interest in my welfare, <that> you who called me your son should refuse me even the common civility of answering a letter. If it is your wish to forget that I have been your son I am too proud to remind you of it again — I only beg you to remember that you yourself cherished the cause of my leaving your family — Ambition. If it has not taken the channel you wished it, it is not the less certain of its object. Richmond & the U. States were too narrow a sphere & the world shall be my theatre —

As I observed in the letter which you have not received — (you would have answered it if you had) you believe me degraded — but <th> do not believe it — There is that within my heart which has no connection with degradation — I can walk among [page 3:] infection & be uncontaminated. There never was any period of my life when my bosom swelled with a deeper satisfaction, of myself & (except in the injury which I may have done to your feelings) — of my conduct — My father do not throw me aside as degraded[.] I will be an honor to your name.

Give my best love to my Ma & to all friends —

If you determine to abandon me — here take [I my] farewell — Neglected — I will be doubly [ambi]tious, & the world shall hear of the son whom you have thought unworthy of your notice. But if you let the love you bear me, outweigh the offence which I have given — then write me my father, quickly. My desire is for the present to be freed from the Army — Since I have been in it my character is one that will bear scrutiny & has merited the esteem of my officers — but I have accomplished my own ends — & I wish to be gone — Write to Lieut Howard — & to Col: House, desiring my discharge — & above all to myself.

Lieut Howard’s direction is — Lieut J. Howard, Forss Monroe, Col: House’s Col: Jas House — Fss Monroe — my own the same — [page 4:]

My dearest love to Ma & all my friends

I am   Your affectionate son
Edgar A Poe


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Notes:

This letter is printed here with permission from the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia. A photographic facsimile of this letter was published in Mary Newton Stanard, Edgar Allan Poe Letters Till Now Unpublished in the Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1925.


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[S:0 - MS, 1828] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to J. Allan (LTR008/RCL017)