Text: George W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe — December 21, 1845


Phillips, Dec. 21st

I commenced taking Graham’s Magazine in 1842. It was about the first of my reading of the kind; and I was highly pleased with it — was especially pleased with the passionate stories of Mrs. Stephens, and the merry, skipping, child-like utterings forth of Mrs. Osgood. Yet there were some few productions which I met with that were not in much favor with me at first; and they were those of Mr. Poe, the editor of the magazine during the first six months that I took it. His criticisms, I thought, were sheer pedantries, and his tales very perplexities, very enigmas which I could not unravel.. His “Mask of the Red Death,” in particular, seemed a complete mystery. I could find neither beginning, middle, nor end to it — neither design nor meaning. But I was only a boy, and unused to much thinking, or to analyzing; so. I was unprepared to judge with respect to the merits of what I read. I was incapable of discovering the lofty talent (genius, I suppose I should say) which his writings really possessed. — No, I know I am but little better fitted for the station of judge of literary merit than I was three years ago, and I have not aspired to that station now. I merely give my feeling. I have gone back to that old volume of the magazine, and read over and over again the reviews there, and have read, as carefully, those that have appeared in all the later volumes. But it has appeared to my mind that there was less of real, sound, philosophical criticism in the whole of these latter, than even in the one little notice of Hawthorne’s “Twice-told Tales” among the former. And I should find more pleasure in perusing now, for the twentieth time, the fantasy condemned above, than in reading a story by Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. Embury, Mr. Peterson, or any of the host of fanciful newspaper contributors, for the first time.

To be short and direct, Mr. Poe is the one I have selected from all the writers of whom I know any thing, for my especial favorite. I am passionately fond of reading his productions of all kinds. His works of analysis, such as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” &c. whet curiosity to the keenest edge, forcing the very soul of the reader, in spite of himself, to every step, and through every obscure winding of their course. But I rather prefer his — his — his — night-mare tales to these — I know not what better adjective to use; for they cling, to my mind at least, in all the vividness, and with all the shivering intensity of the night-mare. In “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion,” “The Descent into the Maelstrom,”  “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and others, there is a kind” of under-current of something — I know not what — that comes up, faint at first, and dimly seen, but increasing gradually in strength and brightness, till it opens into a full ocean, surging and sounding and flaming. Each of them is a volume of metaphysicks and a book of poetry. I have never seen but three or four of his poems, and those are poems in my estimation. “The Haunted Palace” is next to perfect, Mr. Lowell says. And I think “Dream-Land” is nearly as good. I like Mr. Poe’s writings, I say, the best of any that I have come across, notwithstanding the man, I think, is rather graceless — rather egotistical; rather irreverent towards his fellows, rather curious in some of his ideas of morals and religion. I like them in spite of all the damning they get from his rivals in the walk of literature, and will still I continue to like them in defiance of these things. I wish that he would give more of them, and that I could get hold of them. I wish I could lay my hands upon his poems, “The Raven” in especial, and upon his “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque” upon any and all of his works except Wiley and Putnam’s late collection, is for I am so fortunate as to possess them. I have endeavored. to get others by writing to publishers in Philadelphia and Boston, but they do not have them. I wish Mr. Poe would “stoop so low” as to address by letter a rustic youngster of the backwoods of Maine, and tell him where he can get those things which he covets so much. Dickens condescended to write to an humble one in the wild[[s]] of our West: and the Lord of Life and Glory deigned to come down from his throne to suffer and die, for sinful, fallen man. Will Mr. Poe not address me? I wish Mr. Poe would take upon himself the regulation of a magazine, and stick to his work. I would even give him the little support of a subscription for it, that is, as long as I have the eyesight to read, the mind to appreciate, and the money to pay. I have now and then seen, Messrs. Publishers, mention of the existence of such a publication as the Broadway Journal, and have learned that Mt. Poe is connected in some way with it, I know not in what way; nor do I know whether the Journal is a weekly or daily paper, or a magazine, monthly or quarterly, or what it is. I wish to know all these things; and also the cost of the publication yearly. I wish to subscribe for it, if it is good, and if the expence is not too much. Will you — sir, if only one, and gentlemen if more — will you give me your terms, &c. &c. &c. in a specimen-number or two? Direct to G. W. Eveleth. Phillips. Maine.

You need not read more than this last page unless you feel disposed. The business I have with you is embraced in it.

G. W. E.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - G. W. Eveleth to Poe (RCL599)