Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Evert A. Duyckinck — March 8, 1849 (LTR-308)


Fordham March 8.

Dear Sir,

If you have looked over the Von Kempelen article which I left with your brother, you will have fully perceived its drift. I mean it as a kind of “exercise”, or experiment, in the plausible or verisimilar style. Of course, there is not one word of truth in it from beginning to end. I thought that such a style, applied to the gold-excitement, could not fail of effect. My sincere opinion is that nine persons out of ten (even among the best-informed) will believe the quiz (provided the design does not leak out before publication) and that thus, acting as a sudden, although of course a very temporary, check to the gold-fever, it will create a stir to some purpose.

I had prepared the hoax for a Boston weekly called “The Flag” — where it will be quite thrown away. The proprietor will give me $15 for it on presentation to his agent here; and [page 2:] my object in referring the article to you is simply to see if you could not venture to take it for the “World”. If so, I am willing to take for it $10 — or, in fact, whatever you think you can afford.

I believe the quiz is the first deliberate literary attempt of the kind on record. In the story of Mrs Veal, we are permitted, now & then, to perceive a tone of banter. In “Robinson Crusoe” the design was far more to please, or excite, than to deceive by verisimilitude, in which particular merely, Sir Ed. Seaward’s narrative is the more skilful book. In my “Valdemar Case” (which was credited by many) I had not the slightest idea that any person should credit it as any thing more than a “Magazine-paper” — but here the whole strength is laid out in verisimilitude.

I am very much obliged to you for your reprint of “Ulalume”.

Truly Yours,
Edgar A Poe.

[page 3:]

P.S. If you feel the least shy about the article, make no hesitation in returning it, of course: — for I willingly admit that it is not a paper which every editor would like to “take the responsibility’, of printing — although merely as a contribution with a known name: — but if you decline the quiz, please do not let out the secret.

Evert A. Duyckinck Esqr





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to E. A. Duyckinck (LTR308/RCL779)