Text: Edgar Allan Poe to John Allan — July 26, 1829 (LTR-016)


July 26 — 1829 —

Dear Pa,

I received yours of the 19th on the 22d ulto & am truly thankful for the money which you sent me, notwithstanding the taunt with which it was given “that men of genius ought not to apply to your aid” — It is too often their necessity to want that little timely assistance which would prevent such applications —

I did not answer your letter by return of mail on account of my departure for Washington the next morning — but before I proceed to tell the event of my application I think it my duty to say something concerning the accusations & suspicions which are contained in your letter —

As regards the substitute, the reason why I did not tell you that it would cost $75 — was that I could not possibly foresee so improbable >>an<< event — The bounty is $12 — & <unless> but for the absence of Col: House & Lt Howard at the time of my discharge it would have been all that I should have had to pay — The officer commanding a company can (if he pleases) enlist the first recruit who offers & muster him as a substitute for another, of course paying only the bounty of 12 $ but as Lt Howard & Col: House were both absent, this arrangement could not be effected — As I told you it would only cost me $12 I did not wish to make you think me imposing upon you — so upon a substitute, offering for $75 — I gave him $25 & gave him my note of hand for the balance — when you remitted me $100 — thinking I had more than I should want. I thought it my best opportunity of taking up my note — which I did. [page 2:]

If you will take into consideration the length of time I have been from home, which was occasioned by my not hearing from you (& I was unwilling to leave the city without your answer, expecting it every day) & other expenses, you will find that it has been impossible for me to enter into any extravagancies or improper expense — even supposing I had not lost the $46 — the time which intervened between my letter & your answer in the first instance was 22 days — in the latter one month & 4 days — as I had no reason to suppose you would not reply to my letter as I was unconscious of having offended, it would have been imprudent to leave without your answer — this expense was unavoidable —

As regards the money which was stolen I have sent you the only proof in my possession a letter from Mosher — in which there is an acknowledgement of the theft — I have no other. On receiving your last letter, I went immediately to Washington, on foot, & have returned the same way, having paid away $40 for my bill & being unwilling to spend the balance when I might avoid it, until I could see what prospects were in view — I saw Mr Eaton, he addressed me by name, & in reply to my questions told me — “that of the 47 surplus, on the roll, which I mentioned in my former letters, 19 were rejected [9] dismissed & 8 resigned [“] — consequently there [page 3:] was yet a surplus of 10 before me on the roll. On asking for my papers of recommendation, which might be of service elsewhere — he told me that in that case my application would be considered as withdrawn, which he strongly advised me not to do — saying that there were still hopes of my obtaining the appointment in Sepr as during the encampment every year there were numerous resignations — if the number exceeded 10 I should be sure of the appt without farther application in Sepr if not I would at least be among the first on the next roll for the ensuing year — when of course my appointment was certain — when I mentioned that I feared my age would interfere he replied that 21 was the limit — that many entered at that time — & that I might call myself 21 until I was 22 — On leaving the office he called me back to endorse on my papers the name of my P. Office — I wrote Richmond. He said that I should certainly hear from him & that >>he<< regretted my useless trip to Washington — These are his precise words —

Having now explained every circumstance that seemed to require an explanation & shown that I have spared no exertions in the pursuit of my object. I write to you for information as to what course I must pursue — I would have returned home immediately but for the words [in] your letter “I am not particularly anxious to see you” — I know not how to interpret them[.] [page 4:]

I could not help thinking that they amounted to a prohibition to return — if I had any means of support until I could obtain the appointment, I would not trouble you again — I am conscious of having offended you formerly — greatly — but I thought that had been forgiven. at least you told me so —

I know that I have done nothing since to deserve your displeasure —

[[space reserved for address]]

As regards the poem, I have offended only in asking your approbation — I can publish it upon the terms you mentioned — but will have no more to do with it without your entire approbation — I will wait with great anxiety for your answer — You must be aware how important it is that I sh[ould] hear from you soon — as I do not know how to ac[t.]

I am Your’s affectionately
Edgar A. [Poe]



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.


[S:0 - MS, 1829] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to J. Allan (LTR016/RCL037)