Text: David K. Jackson, “Some Unpublished Letters of T. W. White to Lucian Minor [Part 01],” Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, April 1936, 17:224-243


­ [page 224, unnumbered:]



The founding of The Southern Literary Messenger in the city of Richmond, Virginia, in August, 1834, marked the beginning of the South’s longest sustained literary magazine.(1) Until 1834 similar publications in other Southern cities, like Charleston, Macon, and Augusta, had flourished for only a year or two and then quietly passed from the journalistic scene. The Messenger’s longevity was perhaps due to its enterprising founder and publisher, Thomas W. White (1788-1843),(2) for, although he was not a well-educated man, he was able to draw to his aid in the venture the talents of such writers as Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, Robert Saunders, James Ewell Heath, Edgar Allan Poe, James Kirke Paulding, William Gilmore Simms, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Edward Vernon Sparhawk, and St. George Tucker.

The Messenger, first begun as a provincial magazine catering to Virginians, soon became under one of its editors, Edgar Allan Poe, one of the most widely read magazines in the country.(3) After Poe’s leaving in January, 1837, the journal continued to speak mainly for and about the South until the last issue came from the press in June, 1864, and at present the files of the magazine have become not only a literary document, but also a record for the social historian of the ante-bellum South.

The following forty-six letters of the owner, T. W. White, to ­[page 225:] his friend, Lucian Minor, cover an early period in the history of the Messenger from February 26, 1835, to January 22, 1842, and throw much light on the magazine and its contributors. Lucian Minor (1802-1858) (4) appears to have been a valuable editorial adviser to White in the years 1835 and 1836 and later the editor sub rosa of the journal in the three or four years after Poe’s resignation. Information about the circulation of the Messenger is contained in the letters. One article, a review of the eulogies of John Marshall, sometimes ascribed to Poe, is now definitely established as having been the work of Minor.(5) This contribution includes a few biographical facts about White, of whom little is known.

The present editor is very grateful to Mr. Oliver R. Barrett, of Chicago, Illinois, who owns the letters, for his kind permission to publish them. For the sake of convenience the letters are numbered in chronological order.(6)


Richmond, Feb. 26, 1836 [sic].(7)

My Friend Minor,

I am always delighted to hear from you, — and really regret that I was obliged to postpone answering your very acceptable lines of the 22d till to-day.

Why deliberate — Delays are always dangerous. And why? Because you might be taking this friend’s advice — and that friend’s advice — till, finally, you would have no mind of your own. Suppose I had stopped to deliberate when I was about embarking in my present undertaking, — why I should have been shipwrecked. Did not every friend I had, importune, by letter and otherwise, that I should desist — did they not say that I was a madman — that I would be ruined forever. In spite of all these remonstrances, I rushed on. What has been the consequence. My sacrifices — my unparalleled exertions are like to be crowned with success. ­[page 226:]

I like you all the better for doubting your capacity. True genius should always wear that dress, — and what is more it always does. Show me a man vain of his acquirements, — and I will show you a jackass.

As for Law, I feel entirely confident that your friends here will get you more of that than you will feel willing, or find it convenient to attend to.

You say you will have to retain the county of Louisa to practice in, if you come — and that you will have to visit it monthly. Well be it so — I am sure I should not object to it, particularly if it is to yield you $5 or $100 per year. To be sure if I had my choice, I would rather you should not undertake such monthly trips. — Still that shall not move me from my choice.

Really you speak of it as a Herculean task to furnish me with 15 or 20 pages of original matter once a month. Why, sir, to a man of your habits you will find it nothing — Why, sir, what is 20 pages a month to one whom God has blessed with health and mind. — Believe me it is nothing — and you will find it so. Instead of a burden you will find it a pleasure.

I am here interrupted by an office visiter, — and must break off just as I was most anxious to write another page or two — but as the hour for closing the mail is near to hand I must I suppose draw to a close, — as I never could talk and scribble at one and the same time,

Your Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, March 2, 1835.(8)

Lucian Minor, Esq.

My Dear Sir,

The last mail from your place brought me your’s of the 28th ult.

I tender you my sincere thanks for the excellent piece of poetry enclosed, as also for the judicious introductory remarks you have been pleased to preface it with.

You mentioned to me some time ago that my compositors had taken some few liberties with your punctuation in No. 1, of Letters from New-England.(9) As I am forced to make a reprint of that No.,(10) ­[page 227:] may I ask the favor of you — to mark such corrections as you may desire, on your copy of No. 3, and forward the same to me by mail. — When my new edition is issued, I will be sure to restore it.

I will now endeavor to respond to the several queries you have been pleased to propound to me. It is a trite saying, — tho’ perhaps not the less true from that circumstance, — that “the last shall be first,”&c. I hope therefore to be excused for commencing at your last query first.

“In what way shall the payment be guaranteed? No man stipulates to receive even the fourth of $800, at a distant day, without expecting, and seeing, that its payment be secured beyond all doubt.” This is plain language — such, in truth, as I am forced to admire — because the way-faring man, though he be a fool, is obliged to comprehend it. [I wish the Scriptures were as easily unravelled — by my thick head I mean.] Very unfortunately, perhaps, it will turn out for me, that you have made this Item, — though, mark me, my respected sir, I neither upbraid you for so doing, — neither do I think it, on the other hand, ungenerous, or even unkind, or uncivil — I have no doubt it is a clause which every prudent man would and ought to have inserted in an article or agreement, — more especially as you very justly and wisely observe, “when, on the faith of it, he hazards important interests, and takes an important step.” Now, my dear sir, the only guaranty I can offer for the faithful performance of my contract, will be my own signature — which I should hold as sacred and inviolable, as if there were 50 securities attached to it. My means depend altogether upon my management and success in business, — though, thank God, I could manage, on [sic] an emergency, to pay any moderate sum of money that that I might have contracted for.

If we agree, I should like you to submit to me such articles of agreement, as you yourself would be willing to sign, if you were me. I should prefer paying the salary proposed by myself, monthly. The contract, I should wish to be binding on both parties for two years, besides the balance of the present year of the Messenger. The quantity of matter, of your own composition, which I should expect you to furnish, should be at least 15 pages for each No. during the present year; and for the 2d and 3d years, as much more as you could find it convenient to offer me; inasmuch as I design changing my type with the 2d Vol. to a new type, exactly two sizes larger than that which I now use for the editorial.

On the subject of contributions, &c. I should of course continue to preside over that department — so far at least as regards correspondence, pay, &c &c. — I should however, feel myself bound to consult with yourself, touching acceptances, — unless when coming, from sources that would require no consultation. Even if I had put ­[page 228:] any in type, and you saw cause why they should not appear in the Messenger, I should throw them aside without a murmur.

All publications for Reviews, I should continue to purchase at my own expense, — and when done with should make such use of the works as I might think proper.

In a word, I should expect to pay the $800 for your services as editor of the Messenger.

You ask, “if, after you join in its conduct, my number of subscribers should increase, as you think it would, through the personal kindness of your friends, might any increase of salary be expected.” Although this is a new feature, and one not thought of before by me, still I am entirely willing to say that after you come down and regularly assume the duties of editor, that, for the first 300 new subscribers who may come in, I will hand you $200 — also, for another 300 new names, $200 more, — ending however here.

You ask, what number of paying subscribers I have? This question I cannot answer to a nicety, — though I should say they cannot be less than 750 — I have on my list upwards of 900, — and am happy to say they are daily increasing.

I have now, my dear Sir, in my homely manner, answered your several interrogatories. I will however, before concluding, say a few words in explanation. My feelings have not undergone the shadow of a change as regards your fitness for the station to which I have invited you — and I am equally as solicitous you should fill it now, as I was on the first day I made the proposition to you. I beg you however, not to suffer kind feelings for me to get the mastery over your judgment. “Look before you leap,” is indeed a saying “worthy of all acceptation,” — and he who rushes headlong into business, — too frequently has cause to lament over his rashness.

Your Friend,

Thomas W. White.


Richmond, March 14, 1835.(11)

Lucian Minor, Esq.

My Friend, —

(For by that endearing name I must call you) your letter of the 11th reached me in due course.

If it were possible for me, by any thing I might be able to say, to hope to induce you to change your mind touching the editorship, I know not whether it would be correct to do it, — since you have positively made your election. To Hope against Hope is a species of madness, — and as I do not wish to be wrote down in your book of ­[page 229:] remembrance as one entitled to that appellation, — why, I will, henceforward, keep my peace — on that subject at least.

I send you the 2d No. — If you get it back to me in 10 days from next Tuesday, it will be in time.

I send you my No. 6. It will not make its regular appearance here till Monday. To pretend — or rather if I am to make the Messenger worth reading, I find that I shall not be able before the month of July to bring out any more regularly than I now do.

You must, my dear Sir, keep on with No.’s after No. 5 — You must not stop — I shall not be apt to forget you. — If I do, you shall have my free will and free consent to hold me forth to the world as an ungrateful wretch. — And to me there is no more crying sin than that of ingratitude.

Be particular, if you please, to punctuate as you wish your writing to appear, and to make it as legible as possible. I will be sure and do it all the justice I can.

Some day next week, I will give you the promised Key.

Unless, I am greatly mistaken, you will be apt to [illegible] this the last No. of the Messenger which I have as yet brought out. I spare neither pains, expense nor labor to make it good — and I will continue to do so even if I sink in the experiment.

Your Friend,

Thomas W. White.


Richmond, April 9, 1835.(12)

Lucian Minor, Esq.

My Dear Sir, —

Your favor of the 31st ult. was duly received. I am really highly delighted with the Tale you have done me the honor to translate for the Messenger.(13) It is true to nature, — and therefore must be good. I am certain that it will be generally read and as generally admired. Finding it impracticable to send you a proof-sheet of it, I have had to rely upon my own optics. Thickheaded as I know myself to be, I will nevertheless hope that I have guessed at what you wished to write down.

No. 2 was struck off before your letter reached me — otherwise I should have obeyed instructions.

I have made a memoranda of the correction you wish made in Letter 2. — When I read it, it shall of course be made.

I shall, my dear Sir, take some pains to have Dr. Shattuck’s present ­[page 230:] noticed,(14) I am sure it is from the pen of Mrs. Davis, his mother-in-law.

I really regret that you had not the time to spare to furnish me with your 5th Letter from New-England. I am equally sure that the public will lament being deprived of the dish — and will not even relish the disappointment half so well as I am forced to do.

It is useless for me to repeat what you so well know, viz. that I shall be happy to hear from you at all times.

I am your friend,

Thomas W. White.


Richmond, April 31, 1835.(15)

My Respected Friend, —

I have your favor and proof-sheets — and all in good time.

I am really and truly very much mortified to find an error in “Example is better than Precept.”(16) I do not see how it will be possible to make the correction without disfiguring materially the appearance of the work. I shall however have it attempted with a pencil.

Yes! it is the indivual [sic] to whom you allude. And I trust I shall yet be favored with more writings from the same quarter.

I have sent the Stories about General Warren to Judge Beverley Tucker.(17) If he sends me a notice of the work, I shall take care and forward it to you before I set it up.

I fear I shall not be able to bring my next No. out before the 18 [or 16?]th of May. — I cannot seem to make headway unless I bring out a bungling concern,

Your Constant Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, May 15, 1835.(18)

My Dear Sir, —

I will send to you in due time the numbers of the Messenger, in order that you may be forming the Table of Contents for me, — unless indeed it be desirable you should be going on with it now for me.

I will give you now a list of contributors — so far as I know. ­[page 231:]

Influence,&c. Herman J. Groesbeck, Cincinnati, Ohio;(19) English Poetry, P. P. Cooke, Esq. of Winchester — Last Indian, do.;(20) Waltz & Gallopade, J. M, Garnett;(21) Christian Education, B. Tucker;(22) Mexican, Tayloe of King-George;(23) Tale of the West, N. Whitehead, Lovingston, Va.;(24) Tale of a Nose, E. V. Sparhawk, of this City;(25) Fine Arts, by Geo. Cooke, Artist, of Va;(26) Apostrophe, &c. (Poem) by Judge Henry St. George Tucker, communicated in confidence;(27) Contents Mishap, Sparhawk;(28)

B. Tucker has sent me back the little present from Dr. Shattuck — declining a review of it.

I rejoice to say that all things wear a pleasing aspect touching the Messenger — Your No. 5 is already highly and deservedly eulogized.

Your Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Aug. 7, 1835.(29)

Lucian Minor, Esq.

Dear Sir,

I have been absent from Richmond pretty much since I received your friendly note of the 12th ult. I shall not fail to attend to its polite call, when No. 11 [July, 1835, issue] appears, which will be Wednesday next.

It is really provoking, that just as I had gotten the publication ­[page 232:] up to the right time, that the manufacturer of my paper should have innocently thrown me again in the back ground. It has, in addition, been a great loss to me in a pecuniary point of view.

Although you have done a great deal for me towards helping me along in my new undertaking, and I acknowledge myself under great and lasting obligations to you for such disinterested marks of attachment, yet I still feel myself constrained to apply to you for further aid. I regret to tell you that my contributors are now either asleep, or what is worse are in a trance. — Really, I am at a loss to know how to get along. Under such circumstances, I am reluctantly forced to ask you for some assistance again. Any thing on any subject from your pen will be welcomed by a discerning public.

I beg that you will set to work for me.

Your true friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Aug. 31, 1835.(30)

My Dear Sir,

I really and truly thank you for the Review.(31) I wish it had reached me one week earlier, so that it might have enriched my 12th No. I shall take care that you are not known as its author.

It will be almost indispensably necessary that the Index (including No. 12) should reach me in a fortnight at farthest from this day. I hope you will be able to accommodate me with it by that time.

I beg you will accept my devoted attachment, — and believe me to be

Your true friend,

Thomas W. White.


Richmond, Oct. 30, 1835.(32)

My Dear Sir,

It was out of my power to send you a line, on Tuesday evening, along with my proof-sheet.

I read your Address with attention and great pleasure, and instruction.(33) I assure you that I regard it as one of the most talented ­[page 233:] productions that I have ever read from your pen. It will rank with any thing Brougham has ever written on the same subject. I shall spare no pains to draw the attention of my friends to it.

Do all I asked of you to do in my last rapid scroll, — and as much more as you possibly can.

I wish to God I had $2000. It should be yours to make a year’s tour throughout Europe.

Your Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Nov. 3, 1835.(34)

My Dear Friend, —

I really regret to tell you that your letter of the 28th ult. has not as yet reached me. Any thing from you is interesting — more particularly you will say if that any thing is matter for the Messenger? Well — well, perhaps it is so. It is not to be wondered at that I am so pleased to get even a title from a pen that is so eagerly sought after by all my readers.

I am so anxious to have your really able Address on Education printed correctly, that I not only send you another proof-sheet of it, — but I assure you that I am determined not to put it to press until you shall have made it to suit you.

I am your friend,

T. W. White.


Monday night, Nov. 9, ‘35.(35)

My Dear Friend,

This evening’s mail brought me your letter of the 8th inst. along with the proof-sheet and slip.

It is well for your credit, and for my peace of mind, that I refrained from working off the forms. Keeping them standing so long has been attended with some expense, great inconvenience, and material delay in getting out my forthcoming No. All this, and more however, I should have been willing to encounter, in preference to sending out your Address with blunders in it.

I meant only to say that the pamphlet edition of the Address should succeed, if you would lend a helping hand, among your friends, to call their attention to it. However, “make the commodity as valuable and interesting AS YOU CAN,” and I am sure it will require no extraordinary exertions to make it sell. ­[page 234:]

I received $5 for Dr. Magruder’s subscription — and have passed the same to his credit. I thank you for doing thus [sic] much for your friend,

Your Address will not get cold, I assure you. It will be in excellent time for the meeting of the Legislature — and is really very applicable for that august body.

You did not tell me before that you were going to Charlottesville to live.(36) I am truly grieved to hear it, — because I wished you to have come to Richmond. This City was the place for you. Here you could have received as much and more business than you could possibly have attended to, — and here you ought to have come.

I read your flattering memoranda touching the desire of friends wishing me to move to Charlottesville. I am afraid it would not answer. I have been 11 years building up my office and business in this City, — and I am only just beginning to see my way clear now, to make something. I think I must hold on.

I am obliged to ask you to do one more service before you go to Charlottesville — and that is to Review the Eulogies of Messrs. Binney & Story on the death of Chief Justice Marshall.(37)

Judge Story’s is unquestionably one of the most beautiful Orations I ever remember to have read. — It strikes me as being first rate. It riveted my attention from beginning to end.

I do not think so highly of Mr. Binney’s — Still there are some good passages in it, — and some facts which are not found in Judge Story’s.

It strikes me that you will be able to make a most interesting Review out of the two — and I most earnestly beg that you will do so for me, and that as expeditiously as possible. I am sure a dozen or 16 hours will be amply sufficient to do ample justice to the subject.

After you have finished the Review, I must beg the favor of you to make the Publisher speak of Mr. Marshall — for which purpose I shall scribble, for your guide, some true reminiscences.(38) If you find you can make any thing out of any part of them, why it will be well. — If you believe any thing from me could be irrelevant, why then let it pass — I will not murmur. All that I say shall be matter of fact.

I shall trust the package to the driver of the Louisa stage, unless I can find a passenger going up. ­[page 235:]

I shall also send you a bound copy of the Messenger up — as a kind of remembrance. I should like your 13 No’s. — I have use for them. — Please send the same by some safe private hand.

If I can get the Review by next Monday night it will answer — If not, I will wait till Thursday night for it?

Your Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Nov. 10, 1835.(39)

My Dear Sir,

In my very poor, and very unpretending manner, I last night attempted some reminiscences of the late Chief Justices [sic]. If you can make any thing out of what I have attempted to say, I hope you will do so in your own language — borrowing nothing but the facts from me. It is barely possible that the President may feel some inclination to comply with the Chief Justice’s wish touching Judge Story(40) At any rate he ought to know the expressed preference of Mr. Marshall on that subject. However do what you please with all, or any of the facts, sketched by me.

I send you a slip of the editorial. I am delighted with the manner you speak for me. Would it not be proper for you to refer to the change I have made — that is, to the fact of my leaving out “For the So. Lit. Mess.” — Every thing hereafter that is original will appear so: While every thing selected will say “From,” &c.(41) However, I send you specimen sheets.

It affords me great pleasure to have it in my power to send you a bound copy of the Messenger. — It is not bound so handsomely as I could have wished.

Do not forget to send me your unbound numbers.

I have just issued an edition of Stannard Barrett’s Heroine — and beg your acceptance of a copy of it for your Library.(42)

I am, my dear friend, in great trouble to-day. I carry a heavy heart — one almost ready to break as it were with grief. I am a melancholy — weak creature.

Your Real Friend,

T. W. White. ­[page 236:]


Richmond, Nov. 13, 1835.(43)

My Dear Sir,

Passing from my office homeward last evening, I stopped into the Eagle just about the hour of 9 o’clock — when my little form was remembered by Mr. Allan, who told me he had a pacquet from yourself for myself. To me it was glad tidings — for you may depend I was awaiting your reply with intense anxiety.

Even your half acquiescence cheered up my desponding spirits. I had fixed my mind upon you to do that service for me. I knew you to be eminently qualified for the task, — and I also believed that you were an admirer and friend of Mr. Marshall’s; as I think every man ought to have been. I also believed it a fine field for you to luxuriate in. In very truth, my dear sir, I do not know a man in Virginia who could pen a notice of the Chief Justice to please me, so well as Lucian Minor.

From Smith I received a parcel for you this morning, just as the Louisa stage was starting. I handed it to the Driver — who assured me that he would place it in your possession.

And this afternoon, I found at Sanxay’s another small parcel,(44) which had that moment been received at their store from Boston. — This I shall confide either to Mr. Lyons or Mr. Grattan in the morning.

It is now pretty late at night — late or early however, I will always take pleasure in obeying your commands.

I am your friend,

Thomas W. White.

Lucian Minor, Esq.


Richmond, Nov. 14, 1835.(45)

My Dear Friend, —

Late last night I wrote you a few lines, and left them and a small parcel destined for you, at Mr. Lyons’ dwelling-house.

It is now near, 1 o’clock — and I am in hopes to have it in my power to send this by the same conveyance.

Your 100 pamphlets shall be sent to you at Louisa by next Friday’s Stage. I shall scrupulously comply with your requisitions touching the extra copies. — I mean those for editors, &c.

I send you two more proof-sheets to look at. — These are of course only designed for your own private Inspection.

I am so much agitated — and withal — so much under the influence ­[page 237:] of unsophisticated (and positively and purely unaduterated [sic]) feeling that if I could (and I know I cannot) I am really incapable of even scribbling — much less writing.

I am your friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Nov. 14, 1835.(46)

My Dear Friend,

It is just candle-light, and with it comes your favor of yesterday.

Sincerely as I regret your being unable to accommodate me with the Review or Biographical Notice of the late Chief Justice for this No.; I nevertheless submit with the very best grace in the world — confident that you would have accommodated me if it had been possible for you to do. I will console myself with the hope and belief that all will be for the best — in this case at least.

I must have the notice from your pen — I have set my heart on it.

Make all you can out of my Reminiscences. All that I have said are facts.

The Messenger will be out on the 26th.

Truly your friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Nov. 19, 1835.(47)

My Dear Sir,

I did not reflect when I promised to get out the pamphlet edition of your Address to-morrow, that its circulation before the issuing of the Messenger would very materially take away all the interest that I anticipate my Magazine will derive from its appearing in it first.

I have no doubt, my dear Sir, that you will take the same view of the matter, that I have done, when you come to think over the subject. If you should not, it will only be because you do not place a proper value on your Address. No man is so good a judge of his own composition as is another. I do, without meaning to flatter, believe your Address is among the best, if not the very best, article that has appeared in the Messenger since I started it. Believing thus, I must beg of you to let the Address and the Messenger go out simultaneously.

I have, as you will see by the papers, announced the Messenger ­[page 238:] for the 20th. If it does not come out on that day, it will be owing to Mr. Greenhow.(48) I am somewhat afraid that he may delay its appearance till Tuesday the 1st December. I therefore wish you not to let one copy pass out of your hands, if you please, earlier than the 1st — unless you hear from me. You will, I hope, oblige me in this matter. I ask it as a great favor.

I have just completed the 100 pamphlets. I shall retain 20 copies to send away as you have specified — or may hereafter specify.

I will keep 25 on second consideration.

Your Address will, I assure you, make a great stir among the well-informed.

It is now late at night — I am tired — fatigued — and really in the dumps.

Contributors to the Messenger are falling off. — I know not what I should do without occasional help from you. I wish I could get something from your pen for every No. if it was only 4 pages for each.

Your Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Nov. 26, ‘35.(49)

My Dear Friend, —

I have succeeded at last in getting out the Messenger — and shall succeed, I hope, in sending you a sample of complete copies in the morning.

The work will not be fairly before the Public however till Monday — on which day you and me may at one and the same time be distributing our “Address on Education.”

Send me a list of 20, and I will mail that number for you with great pleasure, — and, where you say so, will pay postage.

I hope you have found time to progress with the Marshall Review, — as also with my “light” [unfortunate error](50) reminiscences. I dislike this ever “prodigiously!”

In future you must see a proof-sheet of all you write.

Truly your Friend,

T. W. White. ­[page 239:]


Richmond, Dec. 7, 1835.(51)

Lucian Minor, Esq.

My Friend, —

I did not receive your favor of the 4th, till a late hour Saturday night, — or it would have been acknowledged earlier.

The package I alluded to was one which I received from Smith the day following that on which I sent you the small parcel (2 or 3 books) from Sanxay’s. They appeared to be large pamphlets — double the thickness of the Messenger — (part of the paper was torn off.) — and from the bulk must have contained one dozen books or pamphlets. This was the parcel I was anxious about, — and it was this parcel I placed in the hands of the Driver? I hope it reached you.

I really wait with great anxiety for your Review of the Orations — as I also do for what you may be able to weave out of my own rough and simple scroll of facts touching my acquaintance with my departed friend and almost benefactor.

I could not be otherwise than pleased with your compliments on Eliza’s poetry.(52) I coincide with you in opinion that she ought to abjure Poetry. She is highly pleased with your letter.

I agree with you in all and every thing you say — and when I learn to write will endeavor to give you the reasons why I am pleased with you and all you write.

Your Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Dec. 14, 1835.(53)

Lucian Minor, Esq.

My Dear Sir,

Ten days have passed by since the reception (or date) of your last letter. To me, this really short time, has appeared very — very long. To night I looked with the greatest imaginable anxiety for something from you. But, alas! nothing came. Still, I will neither murmur, nor complain; because I have not the right nor the inclination to do so. Yet I feel — and, feeling acutely, I cannot refrain from giving vent to my poor feelings of unsophisticated regret.

I may also say with truth, that all I am now waiting for is your ­[page 240:] Review, &c. of Mr. Binney’s and Judge Story’s Orations. — These Reviews, FROM YOUR PEN, I would not miss on any consideration. I speak the plain, undisguised truth, when I say so. I have, in fact, before — and again — and again said so much on this head, that I feel ashamed again to give utterance to my feelings, lest you should write me down as a simpleton, — which I really fear in a great measure I am.

Two or three days before the reception of your letter, I had sent off by mail and otherwise, every copy of your Address which I had retained — as you had directed.

To-morrow, I will also mail 5 copies of the Messenger to the individuals whose names you have been pleased to give me.

The New-York Star is the only Journal which has spoken slightly of the Address. Every other paper has really dealt with it as it deserved — no not as it deserved, — for if they had done that they would have copied it entire.

I shall give a Supplement of Notices along with my 2d No. [January, 1836, issue].

I am your friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Dec. 24, 1835.(54)

Lucian Minor, Esq.

My Dear Friend,

I received the package you placed in charge of Mr. Cabell, — and to-night your letter of yesterday reached me.

It is with sincere regret, on my own account, I tell you that it will be impossible for me to bring it out in the January No. This I lament much more than I know how to express. But I will console myself with the hope that even this disappointment will turn out for the best.

I had kept only 4 pages in reserve (or open) for it — believing and fearing that you would not have time to make the Notice longer. All my forms (except Sig. 17) had been worked — that one I kept open for my darling prize till to-day, — when finding that it would be utterly impossible to get it in this No. I ended with the 4 pages, — which still makes the Messenger matter alone count 128 pages for the 2 Number, besides the Supplement and Covers. Nevertheless, if ­[page 241:] Christmas had not been here, I would have extended the present No. to 140 pages, besides the Supplement, but what I would brought your Reviews of the two Orations before the public in it.

I shall, however, get one advantage by the delay, — and that will be the advantage of having the proof-sheets examined by yourself. If I had persisted in sending it out, without your having perused the proof-sheets, I believe I should never have forgiven myself if you had found it filled with errors — which I have every reason to fear would have been the case.

I send you along with this sheets of No. 2. — The No. will not be out of the Binder’s hands till the 1st Jan.

I also enclose to you for perusal, a most unexpected letter I received this morning from J. F. Otis, Esq.(55) Preserve the letter for me, if you please, and forward it to me by some private opportunity.

This day week I hope to have the pleasure of sending to you proof-sheets of the Review. I shall take good care and ascertain the facts you call my attention to.

I am, I assure you,

Your Obliged Friend,

Thomas W. White.


Richmond, Va.  
Jan. 2, 1837. [sic](56)

My Dear Friend,

I see that I have lost or mislaid the Philadelphia paper I alluded to. I dare say you are “right glad” of it.

My first form with “the New-Year” was made up when your letter came.(57) Nevertheless I adopted your hint — throwing aside the Nonpareil and giving you a Bourgeois dress. Judge T. has again read it,(58) and expresses himself more and more pleased with the style and talent displayed in every line of it.

I cannot account for so many discontinuances — discontinuances too coming from the ablest quarters. Such men as W. S. Archer and Wm. T. Barksdale for instance. Still I do not despair. I feel more alive than I have ever felt in the cause. If I have lived through the three first years, I am sure I will do better and better as my Work grows older and older.

Let me get the favor of you to send me a list of every reading, ­[page 242:] or half-reading, friend you have in the Union — so that I may forward, as specimens, copies of my forthcoming No.

Your Friend,

T. W. White.


Richmond, Va.  
Jan. 2, 1838.(59)

My Dear Sir,

When you next see your “Invalid” friend,(60) assure her that her composition is as much valued by me now as formerly — but that it has been impossible for me to find room for it, without infringing on arrangements which I thought it to my interest, or to the interest of my Work, not to break in upon.

In addition to hers I have still on hand several other lengthy effusions from the pens of the fair sex. One,(61) from the pen of her who wrote “Losing & Winning”(62) — and a tale from the pen of Miss Barnes(63) — all of whom are anxious to be accommodated — (the two last are free contributors) But they must be patient. However, I have made up my mind, for your sake, to bring out the first portion of the Invalid in my Feb. No. though it will be impolitic in me to do so.

My Jan. No. was all in type long before I wrote to you at Louisa. — True, I was keeping back the 1st and last forms in order to introduce into them all that I could get of your own writing. — But for this wish of mine, my Jan. No, would have been mailed to-day.

If I had pretended to bring out Mr. Tucker’s address in this No. I should not have been able to have sent it out earlier than the ­[page 243:] 20th — (64) besides being compelled to extend my pages to 72 or 84. — I will send him a proof-sheet.

In my next, I shall be forced to bring out Two Addresses(65) — or forfeit my word. (The public will not like two addresses at once) — and I fear it will militate against the Messenger — unless you can make me up an agreeable melangé.

Your three notices of Works are received.(66) I wish they had been here three weeks ago. I should like to have had them in my Jan. No.

While I think of it, I will send you a paper containing a sketch of the Forrest dinner. If you would like to form a piece for the M. from it, pray do so. — I am pretty partial to Forrest(67) — though he be an actor.

I wish you could get up a really quizzical article for the next No. — I have a great many patrons calling for such species of composition.

On Thursday, I will be able to send you a perfect copy of my Jan. No.

I feel ashamed of my miserable scribbling, as I also do of my handwriting. I can do no better as I feel at present.

Truly your friend,

T. W. White.

(To be continued.)


[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 224:]

1.  For accounts of the Messenger, see Benjamin Blake Minor, The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864, (Washington and New York, 1905); Edward Reinhold Rogers, Four Southern Magazines (Richmond, 1902); Edwin Mims, “Southern Magazines,” The South in the Building of the Nation, Vol. VII (Richmond, 1909); Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines, 1741-1850 (New York and London, 1930); and the present writer’s Poe and The Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond, 1934), hereinafter cited as Poe and the Messenger. See also the present writer’s The Contributors and Contributions to The Southern Literary Messenger (Charlottesville, Va., 1936).

2.  Poe and the Messenger, pp, 17-19.

3.  Ibid., p. 61.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 225:]

4.  See the article in the Dictionary of American Biography, XIII, 27.

5.  See Letter 11.

6.  For other letters of T. W. White, see W. M. Griswold (ed.), Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold (Cambridge, Mass., 1898) and Poe and the Messenger.

7.  Minor farmed the habit of dating each letter upon its receipt. This letter was received on Feb. 27, 1835. Hereinafter, in a footnote, the date of receipt will follow White’s dating of his letter.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 226:]

8.  March 8, 1835.

9.  Lucian Minor, “Letters from New England,” The Southern Literary Messenger (hereinafter cited as S. L. M.), I, 84-88 (Nov., 1834); I, 166-168 (Dec., 1834); I, 217-220 (Jan., 1835); I, 273-276 (Feb., 1835); I, 421-426 (April, 1835).

10.  See a letter dated June 22, 1835, from Edgar A. Poe to T. W. White concerning a reprint of this number, James A. Harrison (ed.), The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe. Va. Edition (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1902), XVII, 8-9.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 228:]

11.  March 17, 1835.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 229:]

12.  April 15, 1835.

13.  “A Tale from Florian: Bathmendi: A Persian Story,” S. L. M., I, 377-380 (March, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 230:]

14.  Perhaps a copy of Stories about General Warren. By a Lady of Boston (1835), reviewed in S. L. M., I, 749-755 (Sept., 1835). See also Poe and the Messenger, p. 100.

15.  May 6, 1835.

16.  S. L. M., I, 39-40 (Oct., 1834).

17.  See the preceding letter. [[letter 4]]

18.  May 22, 1835.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 231:]

19.  “Influence of Free Governments on the Mind;” S. L. M., I, 389-393 (April, 1835).

20.  “English Poetry” and “The Last Indian,” S. L. M., I, 397-401 and 402-403 (April, 1835).

21.  “The Waltz and the Gallopade,” S. L. M., I, 426-428 (April, 1835).

22.  “Christian Education,” S. L. M., I, 432-435 (April, 1835).

23.  Edward Thornton Tayloe, “Extracts from My Mexican Journal,” S. L. M., I, 435-437(April, 1835).

24.  S. L. M., I, 437-445 (April, 1835).

25.  “A Tale of a Nose,” by “Pertinax Placid,” S. L. M., I, 445-448 (April, 1835). See Poe’s comments on “A Tale of a Nose” in the present writer’s “Four of Poe’s Critiques in the Baltimore Newspapers,” Modern Language Notes, L, 251-256 (April, 1935).

26.  S. L. M., I, 454-455 (April, 1835).

27.  “Apostrophe of the Æolian Harp to the Wind,” S. L. M., I, 396 (April, 1835).

28.  “Content’s Mishap: A Veritable History,” by “Pertinax Placid,” S. L. M., I, 450-452 (April, 1835).

29.  August 9, 1835.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 232:]

30.  Sept. 4, 1835.

31.  Probably the review of Stories about General Warren.

32.  Oct. 30, 1835.

33.  “An Address on Education,” S. L. M., II, 17-24 (Dec., 1835) and published separately as a pamphlet. See Poe’s review, S. L. M., II, 66-67 (Dec., 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 233:]

34.  Nov. 7, 1835.

35.  Nov. 11, 1835.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 234:]

36.  Apparently Minor divided his time between Louisa Court House and Charlottesville. See Letter 45.

37.  The review, often credited to Poe, appeared in S. L. M., II, 181-191 (Feb., 1836). See Killis Campbell, The Mind of Poe and Other Studies (Cambridge, Mass., 1933), p. 216.

38.  See S. L. M., II, 189 (Feb., 1836). White must have been associated with the Washington (D. C.) Federalist in 1800.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 235:]

39.  Nov. 9, 1835.

40.  See “The President and the Late Chief Justices,” The Washington (D. C.) Globe, Aug. 12, 1835, and Claude G. Bowers, The Party Battles of the Jackson Period (Boston and New York, 1922), p. 440.

41.  See “Publisher’s Notice,” S. L. M., II, 1 (Dec., 1835).

42.  See Poe’s ironical and “puffing” review of Eaton Stannard Barrett’s The Heroine: or Adventures of Cherubina, S. L. M., II, 41-43 (Dec., 1835). See also Poe and the Messenger, p. 109.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 236:]

43.  Nov. 16, 1835.

44.  R. D. Sanxay, a Richmond bookseller.

45.  Nov. 16, 1835.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 237:]

46.  Nov. 16, 1835.

47.  Nov. 20, 1835.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 238:]

48.  Robert G. Greenhow (1800-1854), author of “Sketches of the History and Present Condition of Tripoli, with Some Accounts of the Other Barbary States,” published serially in the first two volumes of the Messenger.

49.  Dec. 2, 1835.

50.  The square brackets are White’s.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 239:]

51.  Dec. 9, 1835.

52.  “The Broken Heart,” by “Eliza, Richmond, Va.,” S. L. M., II, 9 (Dec., 1835). See also Poe and the Messenger, p. 106.

53.  Dec. 18, 1835.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 240:]

54.  Dec. 27, 1835. Addressed to “Lucian Minor, Esq. Charlottesville, (Va.).”

55.  James F. Otis, a frequent contributor to the Messenger.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 241:]

56.  Jan, 4, 1838.

57.  “The New Year,” S. L. M., IV, 1 (Jan., 1838).

58.  Judge Beverley Tucker.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 242:]

59.  Jan. 4, 1838. This letter is partly torn, and perhaps a postscript is missing.

60.  “The Truce Ground. The Diary of an Invalid,” S. L. M., IV, 114-123 (Feb., 1838).

61.  “The Game of Chess,” S. L. M., IV, 233-245 (April, 1838).

62.  Mrs. Harriet G. Storer, “Losing and Winning,” S. L. M., II, 413-427 (June, 1836).

63.  Charlotte M. S. Barnes, “Constance Woodburn: A Tale of Every Day Life,” S. L. M., IV, 169-182 (March, 1838).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 243:]

64.  George Tucker, “Discourse on American Literature Delivered before the Charlottesville Lyceum, Dec. 19, 1837;” S. L. M., IV, 81-88 (Feb., 1838).

65.  Ibid. and Landon C. Garland, “An Address on the Utility of Astronomy,” S. L. M., IV, 123-130 (Feb., 1838).

66.  Probably “Willis’s Poems,” S. L. M., IV, 70-73 (Feb., 1838); “The Far West, and Its Native Inhabitants,” S. L. M., IV, 100-105 (Feb., 1838); “Hallam’s Middle Ages,” S. L. M., IV, 111-113 (Feb., 1838).

67.  Edwin Forrest (1806-1872).



This article is reprinted with special permission from the estate of David K. Jackson.


[S:1 - SULTWWLM, 1936] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Some Unpublished Letters of T. W. White to Lucian Minor (D. K. Jackson, 1936)