Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Chapter 12,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 305-345


[page 305:]

At the Summit — The Editor of Graham's Magazine

In the discussions which took place in the “small house” that held the little family in the summer of 1840, the project of the “Penn Magazine” must have been the leading topic. It certainly filled Poe's mind, and he probably welcomed the release from Burton's as an opportunity to proceed with his dream of owning, as well as editing, a magazine. The dream was, after all, not quite such an illusion as at first glance it appears to be. No American author of importance had yet proved his ability to make a living exclusively by creative work. Bryant had wisely bought a half share in the Evening Post when he became editor of it in 1829, and although he was so discouraged in 1837 that he thought seriously of selling his share and going West, Poe could hardly have known that fact. Longfellow had recently been called to Harvard as Smith Professor of Modern Languages and Belles Lettres; Whittier had been trying with no great success to edit anti-slavery journals in New York and Philadelphia; Hawthorne had been taken care of by his political friends and was in the Boston Custom House; Emerson had inherited enough money from the estate of his first wife's father to support him; Willis, the most popular of all, had made an effort to retire from active journalism to write the charming essays and the plays that still repay reading, but he had to come back to New York to make a living. Lowell was very soon to start his abortive effort with The Pioneer. Some occupation or independent means was necessary in order to give a writer the opportunity to spend such leisure hours as he had in the creation of literature.

The reasons why there was no substantial career as yet for an American writer lay, first, in a lack of international copyright. A publisher who could sell Dickens’ novels without paying Dickens anything hesitated to encourage an American novelist who would, perhaps, be unreasonable enough to require some payment for his efforts. Poetry, naturally, was not to be paid for at all, and short stories were a bad risk. But even more hopeless, as we now look back on it, was the attitude of the publisher. To him the American author was a petitioner, suing for a favor. Even Lea and Blanchard had quickly regretted [page 306:] their momentary relapse into generosity in agreeing to publish the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, without paying Poe anything.

But for Poe there was no money from Virginia's family, no father to send him abroad to study languages, in which he was singularly proficient, no political friends to get him an office. He had had two experiences of being a paid employee in the service of a publisher whom he could not recognize as his intellectual equal. It is no wonder that he made the effort to found a journal of his own.

The publication of the Penn Magazine was announced in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier as early as June 13, 1840, to appear on January 1, 1841.(1) Poe had a prospectus printed and frequently used the reverse side of these sheets for his correspondence:





To be Edited and Published in the City of Philadelphia,

By Edgar A. Poe.

To the Public. — Since resigning the conduct of The Southern Literary Messenger, at the commencement of its third year, I have had always in view the establishment of a Magazine which should retain some of the chief features of that Journal, abandoning or greatly modifying the rest. Delay, however, has been occasioned by a variety of causes, and not until now have I found myself at liberty to attempt the execution of the design.

I will be pardoned for speaking more directly of The Messenger. Having in it no proprietary right, my objects too being at variance in many respects with those of its very worthy owner, I found difficulty in stamping upon its pages that individuality which I believe essential to the full success of all similar publications. In regard to their permanent influence, it appears to me that a continuous, definite character, and a marked certainty of purpose, are desiderata of vital importance, and only attainable where one mind alone has the general direction of the undertaking. Experience has rendered obvious, what might indeed [page 307:] have been demonstrated a priori; that in founding a Magazine of my own lies my sole chance of carrying out to completion whatever peculiar intentions I may have entertained.

To those who remember the early days of the Southern periodical in question it will be scarcely necessary to say that its main feature was a somewhat overdone causticity in its department of Critical Notices of new books. The Penn Magazine will retain this trait of severity in so much only as the calmest yet sternest sense of justice will permit. Some years since elapsed may have mellowed down the petulance without interfering with the rigor of the critic. Most surely they have not yet taught him to read through the medium of a publisher's will, nor convinced him that the interests of letters are unallied with the interests of truth. It shall be the first and chief purpose of the Magazine now proposed to become known as one where may be found at all times, and upon all subjects, an honest and a fearless opinion. It shall be a leading object to assert in precept, and to maintain in practice the rights, while in effect it demonstrates the advantages, of an absolutely independent criticism — a criticism self-sustained; guiding itself only by the purest rules of Art; analyzing and urging these rules as it applies them; holding itself aloof from all personal bias; acknowledging no fear save that of outraging the right; yielding no point either to the vanity of the author, or to the assumptions of antique prejudice, or to the involute and anonymous cant of the Quarterlies, or to the arrogance of those organized cliques which, hanging like nightmares upon American literature, manufacture, at the nod of our principal booksellers, a pseudo-public-opinion by wholesale. These are objects of which no man need be ashamed. They are purposes, moreover, whose novelty at least will give them interest. For assurance that I will fulfil them in the best spirit and to the very letter, I appeal with confidence to the many thousands of my friends, and especially of my Southern friends, who sustained me in the Messenger, where I had but a very partial opportunity of completing my own plans.

In respect to the other features of the Penn Magazine, a few words here will suffice. It will endeavour to support the general interests of the republic of letters, without reference to particular regions; regarding the world at large as the true audience of the author. Beyond the precincts of literature, properly so called, it will leave in better hands the task of instruction upon all matters of very grave moment. Its aim chiefly shall be to please; and this through means of versatility, originality, and pungency. It may be as well here to observe that nothing said in this Prospectus [page 308:] should be construed into a design of sullying the Magazine with any tincture of the buffoonery, scurrility, or profanity, which are the blemish of some of the most vigorous of the European prints. In all branches of the literary department, the best aid, from the highest and purest sources, is secured.

To the mechanical execution of the work the greatest attention will be given which such a matter can require. In this respect it is proposed to surpass, by very much, the ordinary Magazine style. The form will nearly resemble that of The Knickerbocker; the paper will be equal to that of The North American Review; the pictorial embellishments will be numerous, and by the leading artists of the country, but will be introduced only in the necessary illustration of the text.

The Penn Magazine will be published in Philadelphia, on the first of each month, and will form, half-yearly, a volume of about 500 pages. The price will be $5 per annum, payable in advance, or upon the receipt of the first number, which will be issued on the first of January, 1841. Letters addressed to the Editor and Proprietor,


Poe was also able to secure the publication of the prospectus, slightly modified, in the daily press.(3) It is worth noting that he began by referring to his editorship of the Southern Literary Messenger, without any mention of Burton's. On January 1, 1841, the publication was postponed until March 1st. Poe had been ill, as he wrote to his friend Snodgrass on January 17, 1841, but he was still confident concerning his prospects for the magazine. He was determined to have none but the “best pens” to write for it, and he had one or two articles of his own which he believed would make Snodgrass stare, on account of the oddity of their conception.(4) [page 309:]

Poe wrote to Kennedy on December 31, 1840, asking for contributions for the new magazine. That he was not ungrateful for Kennedy's earlier assistance is shown clearly: “Since you gave me my first start in the literary world, and since indeed I seriously say that without the timely kindness you once evinced towards me, I should not at this moment be among the living, — you will not feel surprised that I look anxiously to you for encouragement in this new enterprise.”(5)

Among others whose support he solicited was Judge Joseph Hopkinson, of Philadelphia, who evidently remembered him from the days of Al Aaraaf and sagely warned him against distant subscribers who will cost him money.(6) The postal rates for magazines were indeed one of the handicaps under which Poe labored. The five dollar magazines paid from nine to seventeen cents for each number, depending on size and distance. It was not until 1845 that Congress abolished the distance provision.(7)

In a postscript to his letter to Snodgrass of April 1, 1841, Poe wrote his friend: “P. P. S. — The Penn, I hope, is only'scotched, not killed.’ It would have appeared under glorious auspices, and with capital at command, in March, as advertised, but for the unexpected bank suspensions. In the meantime, Mr. Graham has made me a liberal offer, which I had great pleasure in accepting. The Penn project will unquestionably be resumed hereafter.”

When the plans for the Penn Magazine had to be postponed, Poe joined the editorial staff of Graham's Magazine. George Rex Graham was a young Philadelphian, who, although only twenty-seven years old, had supported himself as a cabinet maker, while he prepared himself for admission to the bar. He also became assistant editor of Atkinson's Saturday Evening Post and bought from Atkinson, the Casket, a monthly magazine of the sentimental type. When Burton offered to sell him the Gentleman's Magazine in November, 1840, he purchased it for $3,500, on the ground, apparently, that each subscriber was worth a dollar. Burton had thirty-five hundred subscribers, and the Casket had fifteen hundred, so that Graham's Magazine, as the combination was called, started with about five thousand. The number for December, 1840, contained Poe's story “The Man of the [page 310:] Crowd,” although he did not actually join the staff until the issue for April, 1841, was being prepared.(8)

“The Man of the Crowd” is a powerful story of a human being, driven by the search for some lost companion, or by the memory of a crime, who walks through the crowded streets of London without cessation, dreading to be alone. The narrator, who has left his comfortable seat at the window of his Club to follow this old man in his wanderings, finally gives up the chase. Here the terror is of a man's own thoughts. The story made such an impression upon the critic of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine when he found it in the Tales of 1845, that he selected it for extended treatment.(9) As he very properly observed, such a story cannot be judged by its probability. Poe was portraying the power of a moral idea upon the human soul; the incidents are contributory to that idea, and are not of importance in themselves.

Several book reviews in Graham's have been tentatively assigned to Poe during the next three months, but purely on internal evidence. None of them is of importance. In April, however, appeared “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the first of his stories of ratiocination, as he called them. While not the originator of this type of fiction, known popularly as “detective stories,” Poe differed from Voltaire or others who had preceded him, whose cleverness consisted in apparently correct guessing, based on close observation. That the solution is built up from a fact already known to the author is, of course, obvious. Poe was not above this appeal to the reader by exciting his wonder at the mental alertness of his detective, but he did not stop there. He created the character of C. Auguste Dupin, a name which he borrowed from the heroine, Marie Dupin, of a story, “Marie Laurent,” the first of a series of “Unpublished Passages in the Life of Vidocq, the French [page 311:] Minister of Police.” These appeared in Burton's from September to December, 1838, and are signed “J. M. B.”(10) Poe must have read these because he refers to Vidocq in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” as “a good guesser,” but one who “impaired his vision by holding the object too close.” They probably suggested to Poe that he attempt a story in which a crime is solved, but his method is quite different. There is no cleverness in the solution of a problem in these passages in M. Vidocq's life. Marie Dupin, for example, marries a worthless young farmer, Laurent, who abandons her and when, years later in Paris, he and his fellow criminals attempt to rob the house of her employer, Vidocq accidentally sees them enter and captures them. Vidocq, the narrator, remains usually outside the stories, which deal with murder or seduction.

Poe in the person of C. Auguste Dupin, proceeds not by guessing but by analysis. In the opening paragraph of the story, as it appeared in Graham's, he spoke of the possibility of there being a distinct organ devoted to analysis,(11) and he suggested that analysis might be one element of ideality. Later in the story he even places the analytic faculty higher than the constructive. While this is open to question, there can be little doubt of the analytic power displayed in the methods by which Poe secured his results, methods which are so clever that they seem to be intuitive.

Poe introduces the crime to the reader by the usual medium through which one becomes aware of crime, the newspaper account. He then proceeds with the witnesses at the inquest. He begins with the name of Pauline Dubourg, a recollection of the Misses Dubourg who kept the school in London he had attended as a boy. The reader becomes aware of the relations of the dead mother and daughter, Madame and Mademoiselle L’Espanaye, of their seclusion in this four-story house, and of their having a large sum of money, recently drawn from their bank. Here at once Poe's methods differ from those of his many imitators. They would have led the reader for a time into a belief that the bank clerk, M. Le Bon, who brought the gold to the address in the Rue Morgue, had murdered the women for their money. Nearly [page 312:] all detective stories consist of such attempts to throw dust in the eyes of their readers, while in reality the problem is not as complicated as he is made to believe. Poe never lets his reader believe in the guilt of M. Le Bon, the clerk, who has been arrested on suspicion. He simply uses Dupin's gratitude to Le Bon as a reason for his entrance into the case. With Poe there always is a problem, and he gradually leads the reader into an identification with the methods of solution until he almost credits himself with a part in it. Yet the reader never does reach the solution until Poe permits it. Poe proceeds on the assumption that the unusual elements in any problem are the means most likely to assist in its solution. Therefore, the testimony of the witnesses, each of whom heard two voices, one that of a Frenchman, the other the shrill or harsh voice of a foreigner who speaks in a language which the witness does not understand, convinces Dupin that it is not a human being who is speaking. Every other element in the problem is then taken apart in its turn until one or more of its elements aids in the solution, namely that the murder has been committed by an orang-outang, who has escaped from its owner. This owner, a sailor, has followed the animal until he sees through the window the brutal murder without being able to prevent it. He therefore keeps silent, hoping to escape notice.(12)

In May 1841, Poe contributed “A Descent into the Maelström.” He called attention to a description of this whirlpool in the Encyclopædia Britannica, in order, apparently, to differ with that authority as to the causes of the phenomenon. He did not acknowledge, however, that his quotation from Jonas Ramus was also taken from the Encyclopædia, which in its turn had quoted without credit from Erich Pontoppidan's Natural History of Norway. Woodberry, who made this discovery, quotes also the amusing fact that in the ninth edition [page 313:] of the Encyclopædia, the author of the article on “Whirlpool” credits Poe with erudition taken from an earlier edition of the same Encyclopædia, which, in its turn, had stolen the learning from another source, and then quotes from Poe as facts portions he had invented!(13)

But in reality the source of the details is of slight importance. What makes the story impressive is the establishment of a mood of terror. The narrator, to whom the old seaman tells the tale, is himself aghast when he merely looks down at the sea from the heights of Helseggen. The terror arises from the fear of the forces of nature, so they are magnified by Poe's usual denials of limits: “Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt describing. The oldest seaman in Norway never experienced anything like it.” That is a mere device. But the picture of the moon looking down at the black funnel of water in which the doomed boat goes round and round, this is no device. And the succession of moods; the decrease of terror when hope is abandoned — the interest taken in the race of the different objects toward the “horrible inner edge” of the Maelström; the “new hope that made the heart beat more heavily” all identify the reader's own feelings with the most universal of all emotions, the struggle for self-preservation. The seaman is saved, too, not by accident, but by his observation that all cylindrical forms go down more slowly and by his lashing himself to the cask which his brother had abandoned. “A Descent into the Maelström” is in Poe's best manner — notwithstanding his statement(14) that it was finished in a hurry. If this is true, Latrobe's mention of it as being among the Tales of the Folio Club is evidently an error.

As if to prove his versatility, Poe printed in the June number of Graham's, “The Island of the Fay,” a prose poem, almost perfect in its tone. It is a study of natural beauty touched with the supernatural that results from the stimulation which loneliness brings to the poet: “In truth, the man who would behold aright the glory of God upon earth must in solitude behold that glory.” Poe goes to extremes in this story — as he continues: “To me, at least, the presence — not of human life only, but of life in any other form than that of the green things [page 314:] which grow upon the soil and are voiceless — is a stain upon the landscape — is at war with the genius of the scene.” Since the greatest of his poems and stories deal with the conflict of human emotions, rather than the background of inanimate nature, this sentence might be misunderstood were it not followed by: “I love, indeed, to regard the dark valleys, and the grey rocks, and the waters that silently smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, — and the proud watchful mountains that look down upon all — I love to regard these as themselves but the colossal members of one vast animate and sentient whole — a whole whose form (that of the sphere) is the most perfect and most inclusive of all; whose path is among associate planets; whose meek handmaiden is the moon; whose mediate sovereign is the sun; whose life is eternity; whose thought is that of a God; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies are lost in immensity.” Here the magnificent phrases are marshalled into the service of that unity to which Poe loved to pay tribute. This story might be looked upon as a companion piece to “The City in the Sea”; in fact two lines from that poem, somewhat altered, are quoted:

“So blended bank and shadow there

That each seemed pendulous in air.”

But there is no moral flavor in the constant passage of shadows of the trees into the water, as there was in the collapse of the doomed city. “I fancied,” Poe continues, “that each shadow, as the sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk that gave it birth and thus became absorbed by the stream; while other shadows issued momently from the trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus entombed.”

Poe's concern with shadows was constant, and the passage of the Fay from light to darkness has a symbolic meaning, which would require a quotation of the complete story to establish. It is prefaced by the Sonnet “To Science,” reprinted with changes which made the poem conclude with a reference to the Fay — but Poe reverted to the earlier form in his later revisions.

When Poe became definitely attached to Graham's he contributed three criticisms in which his acute sense of literary values lifts his work above the level of a mere review. In these he analyzed the work of Bulwer, Dickens, and Macaulay. In April, 1841, he paid tribute to Bulwer's plot structure in his novel, Night and Morning, and Poe's definition of a plot as “that in which no part can be displaced without ruin to the whole,” has some interest. He shows that Bulwer sacrifices [page 315:] nearly everything else to plot, and his general estimate of Bulwer is that of the best judgment today. When he treated The Old Curiosity Shop and Master Humphrey's Clock in May, however, he recognized in Dickens a kindred spirit. Dickens and Poe are both idealists, that is, their method is to proceed by accentuating the traits of their characters until they become ideal creations. Poe uses romantic material, of which the charm lies in its strange and unusual quality. Dickens usually, though not always, deals with familiar life. His material is classic, for that is the proper antithesis to “romantic” and not “realistic” which should refer to method of treatment and not to material. This similarity in method permitted Poe to understand the nature of Dickens’ characters. “We have heard some of them called caricatures,” Poe says, “but the charge is grossly ill-founded. No critical principle is more firmly based in reason than that a certain amount of exaggeration is essential in the proper depicting of truth itself. We do not paint an object to be true, but to appear true to the beholder.”

Poe realized that the imagination of Dickens placed him upon a lofty plane and he then illustrated his capacity for a critical comparison by this passage:

The art of Mr. Dickens, although elaborate and great, seems only a happy modification of Nature. In this respect he differs remarkably from the author of “Night and Morning.” The latter, by excessive care and by patient reflection, aided by much rhetorical knowledge, and general information, has arrived at the capability of producing books which might be mistaken by ninety-nine readers out of a hundred for the genuine inspirations of genius. The former, by the promptings of the truest genius itself, has been brought to compose, and evidently without effort, works which have effected a long sought consummation — which have rendered him the idol of the people, while defying and enchanting the critics. Mr. Bulwer, through Art, has almost created a genius. Mr. Dickens, through genius, has perfected a standard from which Art itself will derive its essence, its rules.

This was written before Dickens had published Bleak House, David Copperfield, or Great Expectations. Poe's ability to see the weakness of a popular idol is illustrated by his critique of Macaulay's Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, in Graham's for June, 1841:

Macaulay has obtained a reputation which, although deservedly great, is yet in a remarkable measure undeserved. The few who regard him merely as a terse, forcible, and logical writer, full of thought, and abounding in original views — often sagacious and [page 316:] never otherwise than admirably expressed — appear to us precisely in the right. The many who look upon him as not only all this, but as a comprehensive and profound thinker, little prone to error, err essentially themselves. The source of the general mistake lies in a very singular consideration, — yet in one upon which we do not remember ever to have heard a word of comment. We allude to a tendency in the public mind towards logic for logic's sake — a liability to confound the vehicle with the conveyed — an aptitude to be so dazzled by the luminousness with which an idea is set forth as to mistake it for the luminousness of the idea itself. The error is one exactly analogous with that which leads the immature poet to think himself sublime wherever he is obscure, because obscurity is a source of the sublime — thus confounding obscurity of expression with the expression of obscurity. In the case of Macaulay — and we may say, en passant, of our own Channing — we assent to what he says, too often because we so very clearly understand what it is that he intends to say. Comprehending vividly the points and the sequence of his argument, we fancy that we are concurring in the argument itself.

If Edgar Poe were only here today, to penetrate with that critical vision which no popular acclaim could dim, the reputations which have been made by certain poets who are constantly “confounding obscurity of expression with the expression of obscurity!”

In the first volume of Graham's which closed in June, 1841, the contributors’ names would hardly be known today; in fact, not all the contributions were signed with their real names. Poe evidently urged Graham to secure attractive names, and, more important, to pay the authors well. A letter to Longfellow illustrates one of Poe's functions as editor of Graham's:

Philadelphia, May 3, 1841.

Dear Sir, — Mr. George R. Graham, proprietor of Graham's Magazine, a monthly journal published in this city and edited by myself, desires me to beg of you the honor of your contribution to its pages. Upon the principle that we seldom obtain what we very anxiously covet, I confess that I have but little hope of inducing you to write for us, — and, to say truth, I fear that Mr. Graham would have opened the negotiation much better in his own person, for I have no reason to think myself favorably known to you; but the attempt was to be made, and I make it.

I should be overjoyed if we could get from you an article each month, — either poetry or prose, — length and subject à discrétion. [page 317:] In respect to terms, we would gladly offer you carte blanche; and the periods of payment should also be made to suit yourself.

In conclusion, I cannot refrain from availing myself of this, the only opportunity I may ever have, to assure the author of the “Hymn to the Night,” of the “Beleaguered City,” and of the “Skeleton in Armor,” of the fervent admiration with which his genius has inspired me; and yet I would scarcely hazard a declaration whose import might be so easily misconstrued, and which bears with it, at best, more or less of niaiserie, were I not convinced that Professor Longfellow, writing and thinking as he does, will be at no loss to feel and to appreciate the honest sincerity of what I say. With the highest respect,

Your obedient servant,


Longfellow's reply indicates that he already appreciated Poe's merits:

May 19, 1841.

Your favor of the 3rd inst., with the two numbers of the Magazine, reached me only a day or two ago.

I am much obliged to you for your kind expressions of regard, and to Mr. Graham for his very generous offer, of which I should gladly avail myself under other circumstances. But I am so much occupied at present that I could not do it with any satisfaction either to you or to myself. I must therefore respectfully decline his proposition.

You are mistaken in supposing that you are not “favorably known to me.” On the contrary, all that I have read from your pen has inspired me with a high idea of your power; and I think you are destined to stand among the first romance-writers of the country, if such be your aim.(16)

Poe's relation to Graham's was begun without any concealment of his continued desire for a magazine of his own. In fact, he believed that Graham might join him. In this project of publishing two magazines, one for a large audience and one for a more limited group at higher prices, he was only anticipating methods of magazine publishing [page 318:] which have reached their peak of success today. Poe wrote to Kennedy:

Philadelphia, June, 1841.

My dear Sir, — Mr. George R. Graham (of this city) and myself desire to establish a Monthly Magazine upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you permit me to send a few words on the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to magazine literature. You will admit that the tendency of the age lies in this way — so far at least as regards the lighter letters. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the readily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our reviews (lucus a non lucendo) are found too massive for the taste of the day: I do not mean for the taste of the tasteless, but also for that of the few. In the mean time the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have not any journal of the class which either can afford to offer pecuniary inducement to the highest talent, or which would be, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained.

Mr. Graham is a lawyer, but for some years past has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the periodical business is extensive. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. Together we would enter the field with a full knowledge of the difficulties to be encountered, and with perfect assurance of being able to overcome them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be of excellent quality — far superior to that of the “North American Review.” The type will be new (always new), clear, and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in a single column. The printing will be done upon a hand-press in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. There will be no engravings, except occasional wood cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to lie fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest purity of taste consistent with decision and force. The price will be five dollars.

I believe I sent you, some time ago, a Prospectus of the “Penn [page 319:] Magazine,” the scheme of which was broken up by the breaking up of the banks. The name will be preserved — and the general intentions, of that journal. A vigorous independence shall be my watchword still — truth, not so much for truth's sake, as for the sake of the novelty of the thing.

The chief feature in the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively: or if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the aid of some five or six of the most distinguished — admitting no articles from other sources, none which are not of a high order of merit. We shall endeavor to engage the permanent service of yourself, Mr. Irving, Mr. Cooper, Mr. Paulding, Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Halleck, Mr. Willis, and one or two others. In fact, our ability to make these arrangements is a condition without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my object in writing you this letter is to ascertain how far I may look to yourself for aid.

It would be desirable that you should agree to furnish one paper each month — prose or poetry, absolute or serial, — and of such length as you might deem proper. Should illustrations be desired by you, these will be engraved at our expense, from designs at your own, superintended by yourself. We leave the matter of terms, as before, to your own decision. The sums agreed upon would be paid as you might suggest. It would be necessary that our agreement should be made for one year — during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other (American) Magazine. The journal will not be commenced until the first of January, 1842.

I look most anxiously for your answer, for it is of vital importance to me, personally. This you will see at once. Mr. Graham is to furnish all supplies, and will give me merely for editorial service and my list of subscribers to the old “Penn” a half interest in the proposed Magazine — but he will only engage in the enterprise on the conditions before stated — on condition that I can obtain as contributors the gentlemen above named — or at least the most of them — giving them carte blanche as to terms. Your name will enable me, I know, to get several of the others. You will not fail me at this crisis! If I get this Magazine fairly afloat, with money to back me as now, I will have everything my own way.

With this letter I despatch one of the same tenor to each of [page 320:] the gentlemen before named. If you cannot consent to an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we succeed in our engagements with the others — specifying what others.

Most truly yours,


John P. Kennedy, Esq.

N. B. If you have a novel on the tapis, you could not dispose of it in any way so advantageously as by selling it to us. You would get more for it than L. & B. would give. It would be printed in finer style than they could afford to print it — and it would have a far wider circulation in our Magazine than in book form. We will commence with an edition of 3000.(17)

Poe wrote similar letters to Irving,(18) to Longfellow, to Fitz-Greene Halleck, and to the others named. In a letter to Snodgrass in September, 1841, he still has hopes of Graham's coöperation, but the inquiry concerning Baltimore reveals Poe's growing doubts on that subject:

Philadelphia, — Sep. 19. 41.

My Dear Snodgrass,

I seize the first moment of leisure to say a few words in reply to yours of Sep. 6.

Touching the “Reproof of a Bird,” I hope you will give yourself no uneasiness about it. We don’t mind the contretemps; and as for Godey, it serves him right, as you say. The moment I saw the article in the “Lady's Book,” I saw at once how it all happened.

You are mistaken about “The Dial.” I have no quarrel in the world with that illustrious journal, nor it with me. I am not aware that it ever mentioned my name, or alluded to me either directly or indirectly. My slaps at it were only in “a general way.” The tale in question is a mere Extravaganza levelled at no one in particular, but hitting right & left at things in general. [page 321:]

The “Knickerbocker” has been purchased by Otis Broaders & Co of Boston. I believe it is still edited by Clark the brother of W. Gaylord.

Thank you for attending to the Kennedy matter. We have no news here just yet — something may turn up by & bye. It is not impossible that Graham will join me in The “Penn.” He has money. By the way, is it impossible to start a first-class Mag. in Baltimore? Is there no publisher or gentleman of moderate capital who would join me in the scheme? — publishing the work in the City of Monuments.

Do write me soon & tell me the news,

Yours most cordially


Poe's hopes and plans are made clear through his letters to Snodgrass or to Frederick W. Thomas, who, though born in Providence, Rhode Island, liked to think of himself as belonging to Charleston, South Carolina, where, indeed, he spent his childhood. He was a lawyer with literary leanings and side glances at politics, who had met Henry Poe in Baltimore before Edgar had joined the Clemm household. Coming East to the Baltimore Convention in May, 1840, he met Edgar Poe in Philadelphia afterwards, and their friendship remained constant.(20)  Thomas had published in 1835 a novel of city life, Clinton Bradshaw, with quite realistic descriptions of its seamy side. Poe had reviewed the novel unfavorably in the Southern Literary Messenger in December, 1835, but after he knew Thomas, he praised it for “A frank, unscrupulous portraiture of men and things, in high life and low.”(21) Incidentally, Poe was much more correct in his revised judgment, for Clinton Bradshaw is quite refreshing among the sentimental novels with a similar background.

In May, 1841, Thomas wrote to Poe, suggesting that his friend apply for an office under the Tyler administration. Thomas, who had secured a temporary clerkship in the Treasury Department, painted a glowing picture of the life of an office holder who left his desk at two o’clock, and if he had anything to do, “found it an agreeable relaxation [page 322:] from the monotonous laziness of the day.” Thomas also remarked that everything was in apple pie order on the desk, and “if you choose to lucubrate in a literary way, why you can lucubrate.”(22) Poe replied on June 26th:

I have just heard through Graham, who obtained his information from Ingraham, that you have stepped into an office at Washington — salary $1000. From the bottom of my heart I wish you joy. You can now lucubrate more at your ease & will infallibly do something worthy yourself.

For my own part, notwithstanding Graham's unceasing civility and real kindness, I feel more & more disgusted with my situation. Would to God, I could do as you have done. Do you seriously think that an application on my part to Tyler would have a good result? My claims, to be sure, are few. I am a Virginian — at least I call myself one, for I have resided all my life, until within the last few years, in Richmond. My political principles have always been, as nearly as may be, with the existing administration, and I battled with right good-will for Harrison, when opportunity offered. With Mr. Tyler I have some slight personal acquaintance — although this is a matter which he has possibly forgotten. For the rest, I am a literary man — and I see a disposition in government to cherish letters. Have I any chance? I would be greatly indebted to you if you reply to this as soon as you can, and tell me if it would, in your opinion, be worth my while to make an effort — and, if so — put me upon the right track. This could not be better done than by detailing to me your own mode of proceeding.(23)

Thomas replied to Poe on July 1st, suggesting that Poe come down himself, and that Kennedy's influence be secured. He also acknowledged frankly that he had not seen Tyler himself, although he knew the President's sons. Poe wrote again on July 4, 1841:

My Dear Thomas,

I recd yours of the 1st this morning, and have again to thank you for the interest you take in my welfare. I wish to God I could visit Washington — but the old story, you know — I have no money — not even enough to take me there, saying nothing of [page 323:] getting back. It is a hard thing to be poor — but as I am kept so by an honest motive I dare not complain.

Your suggestion about Mr. Kennedy is well-timed, and here, Thomas, you can do me a true service. Call upon Kennedy — you know him, I believe — if not, introduce yourself — he is a perfect gentleman and will give you cordial welcome. Speak to him of my wishes, and urge him to see the Secretary of War in my behalf — or one of the other Secretaries — or President Tyler. I mention in particular the Secretary of War, because I have been to W. Point, and this may stand me in some stead. I would be glad to get almost any appointment — even a $500 one — so that I have something independent of letters for a subsistence. To coin one's brain into silver, at the nod of a master, is to my thinking, the hardest task in the world. Mr. Kennedy has been, at all times, a true friend to me — he was the first true friend I ever had — I am indebted to him for life itself. He will be willing to help me now — but needs urging, for he is always head and ears in business. Thomas, may I depend upon you? By the way, I wrote to Mr. K. about ten days ago on the subject of a Magazine — a project of mine in conjunction with Graham — and have not yet heard from him. Ten to one I misdirected the letter, or sent it to Baltimore — for I am very thoughtless about such matters.(24)

Poe evidently was experiencing that dread of having written himself out which comes, at times, to every writer. Thomas wrote again on July 19th(25) telling Poe that though he had attended a formal dinner at the White House he had had no opportunity to speak to the President, and that he was to see Kennedy who was in the House of Representatives. The matter dragged on through the summer of 1841. Tyler was in difficulty owing to his inability to reconcile his natural feeling as a Southern Democrat with the policies of the Whig party, which had elected him. He was also resisting the clamor of Whig office seekers who were having their first opportunity at the public crib. The appointment of a man of letters to a clerkship was evidently not a matter of vital concern to him.

In this effort to obtain a government position, Poe met his customary hard luck. He was a Whig, and only twice during their history were [page 324:] the Whigs in power in Washington. Irving had succeeded in spite of his Federalist leanings in adapting himself to the Democratic party sufficiently to permit him to accept the diplomatic posts which his real ability deserved. Cooper and Hawthorne were Democrats and Hawthorne had the good fortune to possess influential friends like Bancroft and devoted college mates like Pierce, who provided him with offices from 1839 to 1841, from 1846 to 1849, and from 1853 to 1857. What would have happened to him without this help, may only be surmised. Yet from the point of view of his creative achievements, Poe's ill-fortune in political preferment was a distinct gain to us. Hawthorne published very little during his term of office in the Salem Custom House, and during his Consulate at Liverpool, nothing at all. Poe would have suffered fewer hardships had Tyler appointed him to office in July, 1841. But we might not have “Eleonora,” “The Mask of the Red Death,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” or “The Gold Bug.”

Poe's personal relations with Graham were friendly. Graham's was growing in circulation, and Poe must have had his share in establishing the policy of paying good prices to those authors who had interesting stories, essays, or poems to contribute. Graham depended on him even more for his ability to discover new talent.

In the second volume of Graham's, which ran from July to December, 1841, Lowell contributed to the October number his “Ballad,” a turgid and immature poem which he declined to reprint in his collected works. Poe spoke in high praise of it in his “Autography,” but the judgment of time is with Lowell. If the names of the contributors still are comparatively unknown to modern readers, there were several popular favorites of that day.

There were poets like George P. Morris, the author of “Woodman, Spare that Tree,” Henry B. Hirst, of Philadelphia, whose lyrics were not at all bad, Mrs. E. Clementine Stedman, whose more famous son was to write one of the best essays on Poe and edit a standard edition of his works. Romantic novelists like J. H. Ingraham, whose work was so popular that publishers, to his great annoyance, attributed other men's novels to him, were plowing the fields of history. Theodore S. Fay, whose Norman Leslie Poe had reviewed so unmercifully, was represented with three long papers on Shakespeare.

Against the background of these productions, Poe's own contributions to Graham's stand out in a quality which, unfortunately, received less recognition in 1841 than it does today. His short story, “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” is at once an interpretation of the after life and a criticism of the life from which these lovers have [page 325:] departed. Naturally, the latter is the easier task, and Poe relieved himself of his dislike of the Jacksonian era in one of those half truths which have expressed the philosophy of oligarchy through all ages: “He [man] grew infected with system, and with abstraction. He enwrapped himself in generalities. Among other odd ideas, that of universal equality gained ground; and in the face of analogy and of God — in despite of the loud warning voice of the laws of gradation so visibly pervading all things in Earth and Heaven — wild attempts at an omni-prevalent Democracy were made.” The only cure was to be born again in a new life. Into the description of that new life, Poe carried his favorite theme, that of “identity.” The senses lose their identity. “The taste and the smell were inextricably confounded, and became one sentiment, abnormal and intense.” ... Sight was appreciated only as sound, sound sweet or discordant, as the matters presenting themselves were light or dark in shade. A sixth sense, that of duration, rose out of the ashes of the others, and gave Monos a wild delight. This sense “was the first obvious and certain step of the intemporal soul upon the threshold of the temporal Eternity.” If “Monos and Una” is not meat for babes, it nevertheless avoids that absurdity into which nearly all descriptions of the after life have fallen. Poe does not carry over temporal limitations into eternity, with the consequent contradictions that arise. For sense of individual being departs and “the autocrats Place and Time” are dominant. “Monos and Una” was one of the preliminary steps to “Eureka.”

Poe contributed quite a different story to the September number, “Never Bet Your Head, A Moral Tale.” It is an amusing satire on things in general, the New England Transcendentalists in particular, and contains a defence by Poe against the charge that he had never written a moral tale. It may be a burlesque on some moralist of an earlier period.(26) In any event, it is a trifle. But in the same number, almost lost to view at the bottom of a page, Poe printed a revised version of “To Helen,” in which for the first time the two lines

“To the glory that was Greece

To the grandeur that was Rome,”

contain the magnificent contrast of civilizations which has already been analyzed.(27) [page 326:]

“Israfel” was printed in October, again improved by verbal changes extending to the insertion of new lines and omission of others. There is no such vital change, however, as there had been in “To Helen.”

The only important criticism contributed by Poe to the second volume of Graham's was his review of his friend Wilmer's “Quacks of Helicon,” a verse satire on the literati of that time. It gave Poe an opportunity to attack the literary and publishing cliques who vied with each other in overpraising their friends. It must have been some concrete and definite injury to Poe's own reputation which prompted him to say:

“And if, in one, or perhaps two, insulated cases, the spirit of severe truth, sustained by an unconquerable will, was not to be put down, then, forthwith, were private chicaneries set in motion; then was had resort, on the part of those who considered themselves injured by the severity of criticism (and who were so, if the just contempt of every ingenuous man is injury) resort to arts of the most virulent indignity, to untraceable slanders, to ruthless assassination in the dark.”

It would be a mistake to dismiss this protest as a result of a mania of persecution on Poe's part. It was a time of ruthless warfare, political, religious, and economic, in which both Henry Clay and Martin van Buren lost the presidency by daring to publish a courageous statement of principle. It was not to be expected that a courageous literary critic would be exempt from reprisals. In this review Poe defined true criticism as “a reflection of the thing criticized upon the spirit of the critic.” He also made a cutting attack on vulgarity.

Poe contributed during 1841 two series of articles to Graham's which were inspired by his sure instincts as a journalist. They were articles on cryptography and on autography. Poe was interested in the solution of cryptograms early in 1840, judging from his statement in July, 1841, in Graham's (28) that “in one of the weekly papers of this city, about eighteen months ago, the writer of this article ... ventured to assert that no cipher of the character above described could be sent to the address of the paper, which he would not be able to resolve.”(29) According to his own statement, Poe received about one hundred [page 327:] cryptograms, all of which he solved but one, which he proved was impossible of solution.

In April, 1841, while reviewing R. M. Walsh's translation of Sketches of Conspicuous Living Characters of France,(30) Poe spoke of the difficulty of solving cryptograms in a foreign language, but issued a new challenge: “Anyone who will take the trouble, may address us a note, in the same manner as here proposed, and the key-phrase may be either in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Latin or Greek (or in any of the dialects of these languages), and we pledge ourselves for the solution of the riddle. The experiment may afford our readers some amusement — let them try it.”

Poe announced in the July issue that he had received only one reply to this challenge, including two cryptograms, and he presented them with their solutions. Of these, he added that “the second proved to be exceedingly difficult, and it was only by calling every faculty into play that we could read it at all.”

It has recently been stated upon good authority(31) that Poe's knowledge of cryptography was that of an amateur, that the difficulties of the specimens he solved existed largely in his own imagination, or were overemphasized. On the other hand, Poe was consulted by the Land Office of the United States, through Dr. Frailey, who sent him a writing in cipher for solution.(32) The late Colonel John M. Manly, of the Intelligence Service of the United States, spent much effort in trying to find the missing numbers of Alexander's Weekly Messenger, in order to read Poe's articles. I feel naturally incompetent to settle the question of Poe's ability. Poe continued the discussion through August, October, and December, 1841, and discontinued his offers when he felt they no longer were serving to attract readers to the [page 328:] magazine. If he did not rise to professional levels, he certainly was far above the average reader in his knowledge of the subject. The principal result was to lead him to the writing of “The Gold Bug.”

In November, 1841, Poe published “A Chapter on Autography,” which he continued in December and in January, 1842. In the Southern Literary Messenger he had used the autographs of well known authors in a humorous way by representing them as replying to a letter which was entirely imaginary. In Graham's he presented the autographs, followed by a brief paragraph, in which he described the literary, and, at times, the personal characters of about one hundred American writers. It was a journalistic device and was probably of some interest to readers of the magazine. Today it is valuable partly to inform us who these writers were, for outside of elderly biographical dictionaries it would be hard to find any information about some of them. It is also interesting to see Poe's early opinions of men like Lowell, Longfellow, and Emerson. Longfellow, whom Poe placed in “the chair of Moral Philosophy” at Harvard, “is entitled to the first place among the poets of America, certainly to the first place among those who have put themselves prominently forward as poets.” Here Poe was probably filing, as it were, a reservation against the day when he would once more resume the art he held for a time in abeyance. Lowell is placed second only to Longfellow, “and perhaps one other,” who again is not named. Emerson is placed among “a class of gentlemen with whom we have no patience whatever — the mystic for mysticism's sake.” Poe, however, selected among Emerson's poetry “The Sphynx” [sic], “The Problem” and “The Snowstorm” for favorable comment and, on the whole, treated his contemporary more justly than did Emerson, who dismissed Poe much later with the phrase, “the jingle-man.” Poe treated Burton very gently, and Griswold with high praise. In turning over the pages of the “Autography,” one is struck with the large number of writers who were editors. Some of these were given sly digs, others praised generously, a few of the paragraphs like that upon Lewis Gaylord Clark, of the Knickerbocker, were later to rebound on Poe's head.

Poe did not limit himself to Graham's so far as his creative work was concerned. In the Gift for 1842(33) which was out in the fall of [page 329:] 1841, appeared “Eleonora,” one of his finest stories. It is the idealized, the spiritualized version of the theme of spiritual integrity, made concrete by its association with the death of a beautiful woman. In “Morella” and “Ligeia” the changes in the identity of the woman who is loved and lost are wrought in a mood of terror. But in “Eleonora” the atmosphere is conceived in terms of peace and beauty. “Eleonora” and her lover have always dwelt together, with her mother, in the “Valley of the Many-Colored Grass.” Love comes to them when he is twenty, and she fifteen, and it is a passionate love, which deepens the tints of the green carpet, and changes the white daisies to ruby red asphodels. Eleonora's beauty is of the ethereal kind: “In stature she was tall, and slender even to fragility; the exceeding delicacy of her frame, as well as of the hues of her cheek, speaking painfully of the feeble tenure by which she held existence. The lilies of the valley were not more fair. With the nose, lips and chin of the Greek Venus, she had the majestic forehead, the naturally-waving auburn hair, and the large luminous eyes of her kindred. Her beauty, nevertheless, was of that nature which leads the heart to wonder not less than to love.”(34)

When Eleonora dies, her one grief is a fear that her lover will replace her image in his heart. He vows never to do so, and for years lives “with the aged mother of Eleonora.”(35) When he marries Ermengarde, there is no struggle. The voice of Eleonora comes to him as an immaterial sigh, absolving him “for reasons which shall be made known to thee in Heaven, of thy vows unto Eleonora.” Perhaps it was Poe's way of telling Virginia that no matter what happened, she was his mate for eternity.

A sentence in “Eleonora” is of great help in understanding the differences in Poe's treatment of the same underlying theme: “The question is not yet settled — whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence — whether much that is glorious, whether all that is profound — does not spring from disease of thought — from moods of mind, exalted at the expense of the general intellect.”

When the mood is spiritual, as in “Eleonora,” the intellect yields to its guidance and the result is ideal. When the mood is horrible, as in “Berenice,” the thought becomes diseased, and the intellect, being subverted to the mood, has no restraining influence. This accounts for the wildness, the undue emphasis of horror in some of Poe's [page 330:] stories, even for the lapse from artistic sanity in “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.”

“A Succession of Sundays” was published on November 27, 1841, in the Saturday Evening Post. It is one of the Grotesques — in which a crusty guardian promises to permit two lovers to marry when “Three Sundays came together in a week.” The story is hardly more than an incident, although the explanation of the travellers whose arrival proves the possibility of the occurrence, is carried on in conversation more lively than is usual with Poe.(36)

According to an editorial statement in the December issue of 1841, the subscription list of Graham's had grown from 5,500 to 25,000. The editorial staff was increased by “two lady editors,” Mrs. Ann S. Stephens and Mrs. E. C. Embury, while George R. Graham, Charles J. Peterson and Edgar A. Poe also remained. John Sartain quite naïvely attributed this success to the appeal of his engravings, which decorated a number of the issues.

The policy of an editor can be reflected in a monthly magazine only after a certain interval, and the third volume, the last one of which Poe was editor, showed a decided advance. The magazine was increased from fifty-three to seventy-two pages. Longfellow appears in January, 1842, for the first time, with his “Goblet of Life.” He also contributed a paper on Heinrich Heine in March, 1842. Lowell sent verse with regularity, better in quality than before, even if in “Rosaline” he spoke of “cold worms” crawling about a dead woman. Perhaps he had been affected by Poe's earlier use of the same unpleasant phrasing in “Irene”!

In March, 1842, a new contributor, Frances Osgood, appeared as the author of a sentimental story, “May Evelyn.” It was the first association of Poe and Mrs. Osgood, to lead later to a warm friendship, unpleasant complications, and a spirited defence of Poe after his death. Mrs. Osgood's verse, which appeared in later issues of Graham's, was better than her fiction. Indeed, her dramatic narrative, “The Daughters of Herodias” can be read even now without apology. It did not appear until July, but Poe had probably arranged for it before he gave up the editorship in May of 1842.

Poe gave to Graham's two fine stories during his final months with the magazine. “Life in Death,” which later became “The Oval Portrait,” [page 331:] appeared in April, 1842. It is a brief pastel, told by a desperately wounded man who seeks refuge in an unoccupied château, and sees the portrait of a young and beautiful girl, which startles him by its likeness to life. Finding an old volume that describes the paintings, he learns her story. She had given her life to please her husband, an artist, who, as he painted into his picture her marvellous beauty, drained from her her health and spirits. Finally, when he gazed on his completed work and cried out, “This is indeed Life itself,” he beheld his bride dead before him. The similarity of theme to Hawthorne's “The Birthmark” which was to appear in The Pioneer in March, 1843, is apparent, but Hawthorne's treatment is so different that there can be no question of plagiarism.

“The Mask of the Red Death,” which was published in May, represents Poe at his height in that form of the Arabesques In which he let his fancy create a mood of terror wrought out of the symbolism of color. The description of the luxurious chambers of Prince Prospero leads, step by step, to the flaming scarlet of the last room, which throws its weird light against the ebony blackness of the velvet curtains. But no paraphrase can give an idea of the effect of Poe's language, when each sentence seems so inevitable. The resources of rhetoric have rarely been so marvelously employed. At the very outset the contrast between the interest of the Abbey and the outside world, where the pestilence rages, is established with finality:

“The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime, it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the ‘Red Death.’ ”

The phantom figure of the Red Death touches no one, and when at last the revellers find courage to attack him, there is nothing tangible within the ghastly cerements, dabbled with blood, which had apparently shrouded his form. With a restraint that is one of the surest marks of genius, Poe gives no hint of the great moral the tale tells to those who can think. For the others, he had no message.

There was no poetry by Poe in this last volume, except “To One Departed,” which was in process of being transferred from “Mary (?),” its original inspiration, by way of a “Seraph,” to Mrs. Osgood. The stanzas are inverted in Graham's.

Poe's theory of criticism as distinguished from his critical theory is expressed in his “Exordium,” which began the review columns in [page 332:] Graham's in January, 1842. He sounded his protest against the undue emphasis upon a national literature — “as if any true literature could be national — as if the world at large were not the only proper stage for the literary histrio.” Poe was objecting not to a national point of view, but to a parochial one, a limitation of our writers to “American themes” which Longfellow was to criticize in 1848 in Kavanagh. It is a limitation which is still urged upon our creative artists, and which has never been imposed upon any other race. If it had, we should not possess Hamlet or the Merchant of Venice.

Poe next called attention to the habit of certain critics of neglecting the book reviewed in order to tell all they know about the subject. This manner has also persisted until today. In order to make his point, he confines criticism to a comment upon Art, and apparently objects to a discussion of the material of the book. Fortunately, he did not limit himself so strictly. He concludes with a description of the perfect critic: “And of the critic himself what shall we say? — for as yet we have spoken only the proem to the true epopea. What can we better say of him than, with Bulwer, that ‘he must have courage to blame boldly, magnanimity to eschew envy, genius to appreciate, learning to compare, an eye for beauty, an ear for music, and a heart for feeling.’ Let us add, a talent for analysis and a solemn indifference to abuse.”

Poe lived up to his standard in his lengthy review of Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge in February, 1842. His elaborate retelling of the plot was probably due to his desire to call attention to his own skill in foretelling the solution of the murder mystery as early as May 1, 1841, in the Saturday Evening Post. Poe was not overly modest in this reference to his solution. The earlier review in the Post states that he had Parts I, II, and III, of Barnaby Rudge before him, in other words, eleven chapters.(37) He did see that Rudge was the murderer, but he made mistakes in other prophecies, announcing that Geoffrey Haredale had been instrumental in his brother's murder, and that Barnaby would be instrumental in bringing on his father's arrest. Neither turned out to be correct.(38) Poe did not establish any profound critical [page 333:] principles in either review, and he yielded to temptation in printing destructive criticisms like that on Cornelius Mathews’ Wakondah. Some years later he apologized to Mathews for this review, in a manly and self-respecting letter.

But Poe signalized his departure from the editorial staff of Graham's by two remarkable pieces of constructive criticism, both dealing with American writers. The first was an extended critique of Longfellow's Ballads. In March, he compared Longfellow and Lowell, and placed them at the head, so far as America went, of the new school of poetry which had the ideal as its aim. In the April number, he continued his critique and used the occasion to re-state his theory of poetry with an enthusiasm and an eloquence which proves conclusively that it is as a poet that Poe must ultimately be judged:

An important condition of man's immortal nature is thus, plainly, the sense of the Beautiful. This it is which ministers to his delight in the manifold forms and colors and sounds and sentiments amid which he exists. And, just as the eyes of Amaryllis are repeated in the mirror, or the living lily in the lake, so is the mere record of these forms and colors and sounds and sentiments — so is their mere oral or written repetition a duplicate source of delight. But this repetition is not Poesy. He who shall merely sing with whatever rapture, in however harmonious strains, or with however vivid a truth of imitation, of the sights and sounds which greet him in common with all mankind — he, we say, has yet failed to prove his divine title. There is still a longing unsatisfied, which he has been impotent to fulfil. There is still a thirst unquenchable, which to allay he has shown us no crystal springs. This burning thirst belongs to the immortal essence of man's nature. It is equally a consequence and an indication of his perennial life. It is the desire of the moth for the star. It is not the mere appreciation of the beauty before us. It is a wild effort to reach the beauty above. It is a forethought of the loveliness to come. It is a passion to be satiated by no sublunary sights, or sounds, or sentiments, and the soul thus athirst strives to allay its fever in futile efforts at creation. Inspired with a prescient ecstasy of the beauty beyond the grave, it struggles by multiform novelty of combination among the things and thoughts of Time, to anticipate some portion of that loveliness whose very elements, perhaps, appertain solely to Eternity. And the result of such effort, on the part of souls fittingly constituted, is alone what mankind have agreed to denominate Poetry. [page 334:]

After discussing the various elements out of which Poetry is created, he arrived at its definition:

To recapitulate, then, we would define in brief the Poetry of words as the Rhythmical Creation of Beauty. Beyond the limits of Beauty its province does not extend. Its sole arbiter is Taste. With the Intellect or with the Conscience it has only collateral relations. It has no dependence, unless incidentally, upon either Duty or Truth.

Poe used truth in a special sense, of course. He was opposed to the didactic, but there is no essential untruth in Poe's poetry. Indeed, in selecting the best of Longfellow's ballads for comment, he says, “We would mention as poems nearly true, ‘The Village Blacksmith,’ ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ and especially ‘The Skeleton in Armor.” It is striking that Poe should have celebrated “the beauty of simple mindedness” in “The Village Blacksmith,” and answered fifty years in advance the sophisticated criticism which relegates Longfellow to a lower rank because he dared to deal with the fundamental relations of life.

Poe found in “The Skeleton in Armor” a pure and perfect thesis, artistically treated. He defended Longfellow from a recent criticism in the Democratic Review, which objected to his having “but one idea” in each poem. Poe rightly dwelt here upon the unity in Longfellow's poetry, although he had not always recognized it.(39) This appreciation of Longfellow is important because it represented Poe's sane judgment before personal and unworthy considerations began to sway him. It also proved that Poe was broad minded enough to find great beauty in the work of a poet “whose conception of the aims of poesy is all wrong” — according to Poe's standards.

The second constructive criticism was the now famous review of Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales, which began with a brief notice in April and was continued in May of 1842. Poe began the May number with the recognition that many of the Twice Told Tales were not short stories, but, rather, essays, and he placed them above similar familiar essays in the Spectator, on account of their originality. Poe's understanding of his great rival is in some ways extraordinary, but is explainable. We have only to call up the picture of Poe as he wrote this sentence: “These effusions of Mr. Hawthorne are the product of a truly imaginative intellect, restrained, and in some measure repressed, by fastidiousness of taste, by constitutional melancholy and by indolence.” [page 335:] While we are trying to fit the words to the brooding artist in Salem, the thought must occur to us — how well they describe the writer himself as he pens them in Philadelphia.

Poe made clear that he believed the highest expression of genius lay in “the composition of a rhymed poem, not to exceed in length what might be perused in an hour.” But he continues:

Were we called upon, however, to designate that class of composition which, next to such a poem as we have suggested, should best fulfil the demands of high genius — should offer it the most advantageous field of exertion — we should unhesitatingly speak of the prose tale, as Mr. Hawthorne has here exemplified it. We allude to the short prose narrative, requiring from a half-hour to one or two hours in its perusal. ...

A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents — he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the out-bringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end unattainable by the novel. Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is yet more to be avoided.

This passage has often been reprinted, beginning with Poe's own repetition in his review of Mosses from an Old Manse, in Godey's Lady's Book in November, 1847. It belongs, however, in any study of Poe, for it represents him at his best critical form. This is really constructive criticism, for all later writers on the art of fiction have had to quote it, and it has become the standard definition of a short story. Poe then proceeded to classify prose tales, speaking of the ratiocinative, the humorous and the sarcastic. He did not mention, however, the short stories of character.

Poe's praise of Hawthorne is all embracing, and in view of his later criticism of the Mosses for lack of originality, it is interesting to find him saying in 1842, “Mr. Hawthorne is original at all points.” [page 336:]

One delightful slip Poe made. He thought he detected a plagiarism from himself in Hawthorne's “Howe's Masquerade,” and he quoted the passage in which General Howe faces the figure in the cloak and drops his own mask and cloak on the floor. Poe then compares this scene with a similar one in “William Wilson,” and establishes the deadly parallel. He would not have been so explicit had he known that “Howe's Masquerade” had been published in the Democratic Review for May, 1838, over a year before “William Wilson” appeared in the Gift!

In August, 1841, Poe made an attempt to publish another collection of his short stories. He wrote to his former publishers:

Mess. Lea & Blanchard,


I wish to publish a new collection of my prose Tales with some such title as this —

The Prose Tales of Edgar A. Poe, Including “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” The “Descent into The Maelström,” and all his later pieces, with a second edition of the “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.” The “later pieces” will be eight in number, making the entire collection thirty-three — which would occupy two thick novel volumes.

I am anxious that your firm should continue to be my publishers, and, if you would be willing to bring out the book, I should be glad to accept the terms which you allowed me before — that is — you receive all profits, and allow me twenty copies for distribution to friends.

Will you be kind enough to give me an early reply to this letter, and believe me

Yours very res’y.,



Office Graham's Magazine,

August 13/41.(40)

Lea and Blanchard declined the request promptly on August 16th, on the ground that the original edition had not yet been sold. Poe did not give up the idea, however. Sometime during 1842 he prepared a new edition, to be called Phantasy Pieces, in two volume [[volumes]]. In addition to the twenty-five tales included in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, [page 337:] there were eleven, which had already appeared in magazines. Only the first volume of this revision is in existence,(41) the second having apparently disappeared. Fortunately, the table of contents for this entire proposed revision is given in the first volume.


The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Man that was Used Up, A Descent into the Mäelström, Lionizing, The Colloquy of Monos and Una, The Business Man, The Mask of the Red Death, Never Bet your Head, Eleonora, A Succession of Sundays, The Man of the Crowd, The Pit and the Pendulum, King Pest, Shadow — A Fable Parable, Bon-Bon, Life in Death, The Unparralleled [sic] Adventure of one Hans Pfaal [[Pfaall]], The Homocamelopard, Manuscript found in a Bottle, Mystification, The Horse-Shade, The Assignation, Why the Little Frenchman wears his hand in a sling, The Teeth, Silence — A Fable, Loss of Breath, The Island of the Fay, The Devil in the Belfry, Morella, A Pig Tale, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, The Duc de L’Omelette, Ligeia, The Fall of the House of Usher, How to write a Blackwood Article, A Predicament, William Wilson, The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion.

To Printer — In printing the Tales preserve the order of the Table of Contents.

It will be noticed, first, that the order of the Phantasy Pieces is not the order of the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Ten out of the first eleven tales are taken from the most recent of Poe's stories, and the final ten had been published in the earlier volume. Otherwise the principle of selection seems to be simply that of variety. There are no unpublished or unknown stories. “The Horse-Shade” is “Metzengerstein,” “The Teeth” is “Berenice,” “A Pig Tale” is “A Tale of Jerusalem,” and in each of these instances the new title is not an improvement and was not retained.(42)

Title page of Phantasy Pieces [thumbnail] Table of contents for Phantasy Pieces [thumbnail]

[Illustrations on pages 338-339]
Title page and table of contents for Phantasy Pieces

Several changes of title, however, were preserved in later printings. [page 340:] “Epimanes” became “The Homocameleopard” and this was retained as the subtitle of “Four Beasts in One.” “Von Jung” became “Mystification”; “The Visionary,” “The Assignation”; “Siope,” “Silence, — a Fable”; “Signora Zenobia,” “How to Write a Blackwood Article”; “The Scythe of Time,” “A Predicament.”

Poe's deliberate crossing out of “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” provides an interesting subject of speculation. It could hardly have been owing to his lack of appreciation of them. They were the two latest of this group of stories to appear, in October, November, and December, 1842, and perhaps he thought he saw a chance to publish his volumes which might have been jeopardized by waiting for their publication. The first two tales on the list were those selected for the edition of 1843, consisting of but two stories.(43)

Many reasons have been suggested for Poe's resignation from the staff of Graham's Magazine. His own statement, given in his letter to Thomas, of May 25, 1842, is to be preferred to the melodramatic stories concerning his leaving the office without a word, upon seeing Rufus W. Griswold in his chair:

Philadelphia, May 25, 1842.

My dear Thomas, — Through an accident I have only just now received yours of the 21st. Believe me, I never dreamed of doubting your friendship, or of reproaching you for your silence. I knew you had good reasons for it; and, in this matter, I feel that you have acted for me more judiciously, by far, than I should have done for myself. You have shown yourself, from the first hour of our acquaintance, that rara avis in terris — “a true friend.” Nor am I the man to be unmindful of your kindness.

What you say respecting a situation in the Custom House here gives me new life. Nothing could more precisely meet my views. Could I obtain such an appointment, I would be enabled thoroughly to carry out all my ambitious projects. It would relieve me of all care as regards a mere subsistence, and thus allow me time for thought, which, in fact, is action. I repeat that I would ask for nothing farther or better than a situation such as you mention. If the salary will barely enable me to live I shall be content. Will you say as much for me to Mr. Tyler, and express to him my sincere gratitude for the interest he takes in my welfare? [page 341:]

The report of my having parted company with Graham is correct; although in the forthcoming June number there is no announcement to that effect; nor had the papers any authority for the statement made. My duties ceased with the May number. I shall continue to contribute occasionally. Griswold succeeds me. My reason for resigning was disgust with the namby-pamby character of the Magazine — a character which it was impossible to eradicate. I allude to the contemptible pictures, fashion-plates, music, and love-tales. The salary, moreover, did not pay me for the labour which I was forced to bestow. With Graham, who is really a very gentlemanly, although an exceedingly weak man, I had no misunderstanding. I am rejoiced to say that my dear little wife is much better, and I have strong hope of her ultimate recovery. She desires her kindest regards — as also Mrs. Clemm.

I have moved from the old place — but should you pay an unexpected visit to Philadelphia, you will find my address at Graham's. I would give the world to shake you by the hand; and have a thousand things to talk about which would not come within the compass of a letter. Write immediately upon receipt of this, if possible, and do let me know something of yourself, your own doings and prospects: see how excellent an example of egotism I set you. Here is a letter nearly every word of which is about myself or my individual affairs. You saw White — little Tom. I am anxious to know what he said about things in general. He is a character if ever one was. God bless you —


The fashion plates were everything that Poe said about them, and more, and certainly some of the stories fully justified Poe's strictures. The very liberality of Graham's payments for popular authors, although Poe undoubtedly approved of it, must have been a bit galling to an editor who received eight hundred dollars a year for his services.(45) By the end of the second year of Graham's the circulation [page 342:] rose to 40,000,(46) and Graham made a fortune from it. How much, if anything, Poe was paid in addition for his short stories and criticisms, has not been definitely settled. Poe's duties on Graham's apparently consisted of writing the reviews, reading the last proofs and contributing one tale a month. He expressly denies that he has any of the “drudgery” of the magazine — which evidently fell to the lot of Charles Peterson. The tone of a letter(47) written at this time, which apologizes for the action of Peterson in printing a poem which Lewis J. Cist had sent to Poe for the abortive “Penn” project, may indicate some ill feeling between Poe and Peterson. The following passage from Graham's defence of Poe after his death belongs here, for it not only, by implication, indicates that Poe received additional payment only for extraordinary articles, but it also reveals the cordial relations between Graham and himself:

For three or four years I knew him intimately, and for eighteen months saw him almost daily; much of the time writing or conversing at the same desk; knowing all his hopes, his fears, and little annoyances of life, as well as his high-hearted struggle with adverse fate — yet he was always the same polished gentleman — the quiet, unobtrusive, thoughtful scholar — the devoted husband — frugal in his personal expenses — punctual and unwearied in his industry — and the soul of honor, in all his transactions. This, of course, was in his better days, and by them we judge the man. But even after his habits had changed, there was no literary man to whom I would more readily advance money for labor to be done. He kept his accounts, small as they were, with the accuracy of a banker. I append an account sent to me in his own hand, long after he had left Philadelphia, and after all knowledge of the transactions it recited had escaped my memory. I had returned him the story of “The Gold Bug,” at his own request, as he found that he could dispose of it very advantageously elsewhere. [page 343:]

“We were square when I sold you the “Versification” article; for which you gave me first 25, and afterward 7 — in all · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · $32.00

Then you bought ‘The Gold Bug’ for · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 52.00


I got both these back, so that I owed · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · $84.00

You lent Mrs. Clemm · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · - · · · · 12.50


Making in all · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · $96.50

The Review of “Flaccus” was 3 ¾ pp, which at $4, is 15.00  

Lowell's poem is 10.00  

The review of Channing, 4 pp is 16, of which I got 6, leaving 10.00  

The review of Halleck, 4 pp. is 16, of which I got 10, leaving 6.00  

The review of Reynolds, 2 pp. 8.00  

(48)The review of Longfellow, 5 pp. is 20, of which I got 10, leaving 10.00  


So that I have paid in all 59.00 


Which leaves still due by me $37.50”

This I find was his uniform habit with others, as well as myself — carefully recalling to mind his indebtedness, with the fresh article sent. And this is the man who had “no moral susceptibility,” and little or nothing of the “true point of honor.” It may be a very plain, business view of the question, but it strikes his friends that it may pass as something, as times go.

I shall never forget how solicitous of the happiness of his wife and mother-in-law he was, whilst one of the editors of Graham's Magazine — his whole efforts seemed to be to procure the comfort and welfare of his home. Except for their happiness — and the natural ambition of having a magazine of his own — I never heard him deplore the want of wealth. The truth is, he cared little for money, and knew less of its value, for he seemed to have no personal expenses. What he received from me in regular monthly instalments, went directly into the hands of his mother-in-law for family comforts — and twice only, I remember his purchasing some rather expensive luxuries for his house, and then he was nervous to the degree of misery until he had, by extra articles, covered what he considered an imprudent indebtedness.(49) [page 344:]

It must, of course, be remembered that the purchasing power of eight hundred dollars was probably three times what it is today. Longfellow received two thousand dollars as the Smith Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard in 1839, and the normal salary of the full professors at the University of Pennsylvania in 1840 was twenty-three hundred dollars. They can hardly be said to have been overpaid, and yet Poe might easily have thought his recompense was relatively meagre.

It is evident that no quarrel could have taken place between Poe and Graham. But Poe still had his magazine in project, and Graham's unwillingness to join him was certainly one of the reasons for the break.

In the July issue appeared this note:

“The connection of E. A. Poe, Esq., with this work ceased with the May Number. Mr. P. bears with him our warmest wishes for success in whatever he may undertake.”(50)

How much Poe shared in the combination of literary and social life which tradition attributes to the hospitality of George Graham, can be only a matter of conjecture. Graham lived during Poe's editorship in a fairly large house at the corner of Franklin and Buttonwood Streets, in the northern section of Philadelphia, but in 1843 he moved to 191 Mulberry Street, or as it later became, 521 Arch Street, a distinctly more fashionable part of the city. He drove a good team of horses and he evidently enjoyed life fully.

Contemporary evidence however places Poe among the leaders in what literary life there was in Philadelphia. Horace W. Smith, the son of Richard Penn Smith, a playwright and short story writer well known at that time, speaks of his father's associates: “Well do I remember how proud I was of him: he took me with him wherever he went, and his associates and companions (child as I was) became mine. James N. Barker, Robert M. Bird, Joseph C. Neal, Edwin Forrest, James Goodman, Edgar A. Poe, Louis A. Godey, William E. Burton, Robert T. Conrad, Joseph C. Chandler and Morton McMichael were the literary magnates of Philadelphia.”(51)

Horace Smith was writing in 1879, his memory may not have been very accurate, and his omission of Graham's name from this group may have been accidental. But it may also indicate that Poe had won [page 345:] his position in Philadelphia before he became editor of Graham's. Poe was never a “magnate” but it is clear that he was known favorably to the journalistic group of the better sort in Philadelphia. If he was ever to launch his magazine, he thought, the time had come.


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 306:]

(1)  Philadelphia Saturday Courier, X (June 13, 1840), No. 481, p. 2.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 308:]

(2)  The Prospectus is reproduced, from the original in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, as Poe revised it, sometime previous to August 20, 1840. It contains several sentences not in the June issue, notably the passage concerning the criticism of that day. In general the language is improved. The Prospectus fills page 1; page 2 is blank; page 3 bears a letter from Poe to Joseph B. Boyd, in Cincinnati, dated August 20, 1840, and page 4 the address. Poe asks Boyd for help in obtaining subscriptions. The only Joseph B. Boyd in the City Directory of Cincinnati for 1840 is a watch maker, an unlikely person for Poe to ask for help. Another original is in the Huntington Library with a letter to John Tomlin, September 16th, thanking him for subscriptions.

(3)  The Philadelphia Daily Chronicle, I (Monday, October 12, 1840), 3. Collection of W. H. Koester, Baltimore.

(4)  Original Autograph Ms., Berg Collection, New York Public Library.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 309:]

(5)  Original Autograph Ms., Peabody Institute.

(6)  Original Autograph Ms., Joseph Hopkinson to Poe, January 25, 1841. Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library.

(7)  Mott, History of American Magazines, pp. 517-518.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 310:]

(8)  An editorial in the Saturday Evening Post for February 20, 1841, says, “We have secured the services of Mr. Poe as one of the Editors of Graham's Magazine.” On the second page of the cover of Graham's for April, 1841, the “Proprietor” announces that he has made arrangements with Poe “Commencing with the present number.” The story that Burton in arranging for the sale told Graham, “I want you to take care of my young editor,” rests on Graham's statement to the late Albert H. Smyth, a member of the Faculty of the Central High School of Philadelphia, and a good witness. See his Philadelphia Magazines and Their Contributors (Philadelphia, 1892), p. 217. Yet the relations between Burton and Poe make such a condition improbable, and Graham as an old man may have been a bit romantic in his memory.

(9)  Vol. LXII (November, 1847), pp. 582-585.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 311:]

(10)  These may be based on the various Mémoires of Vidocq, one set of which had appeared in 1828. They are generally believed to be spurious, so far, at least, as the authorship of the real detective, François Eugène Vidocq (1775-1857), is concerned.

(11)  This paragraph occurs in the original Ms. in the Drexel Institute, Philadelphia, and in the story as printed in the Prose Romances of 1843. It was omitted in the Tales of 1845, and this text has since been followed.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 312:]

(12)  It has been suggested by John K. Moore, in “Poe, Scott, and the ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ American Literature, VIII (March, 1936), 52-58, that Poe based his selection of the orang-outang upon Sylvan, the orang-outang in Scott's Count Robert of Paris. It is quite possible that the introduction of the animal in Scott's novel in Chapter XVI, “A strange, chuckling, hoarse voice, in a language totally unintelligible to Count Robert, was heard to respond,” may have started Poe thinking of the use to which such a voice might be put. But this similarity of the voice of the orang-outang to a human voice is not made use of by Scott in solving the problem of the death of Agelastes, who is strangled by Sylvan. No attempt indeed is made to solve it, since it is deliberately concealed, for reasons of state, by those who saw it. It is simply another case of Poe taking a slight suggestion and inventing the most important element in the story.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 313:]

(13)  Woodberry, Works of Poe, IV, 289-294. The quotation from Joseph Glanvill, as Woodberry also pointed out, is from Essays on Several Important Subjects in Philosophy and Religion (London, 1676), p. 15. Poe is, as often, not quite correct. The original reads: “The ways of God in Nature (as in Providence) are not as ours are: Nor are the Models that we frame any way commensurate to the vastness and profundity of his Works; which have a depth in them greater than the Well of Democritus.”

(14)  Poe to Snodgrass, July 12, 1841.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 317:]

(15)  Final Memorials of Henry W. Longfellow, Ed. by Samuel Longfellow (Boston, 1887), pp. 13-14.

(16)  Samuel Longfellow, Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Boston, 1886), I, 376-377.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 320:]

(17)  Original Autograph Ms., Peabody Institute, Baltimore.

(18)  See Stanley T. Williams, The Life of Washington Irving (New York, 1935), II, 358, where the letter to Irving is reprinted in part. See Woodberry, I, 277-280, for the letter to Longfellow. The letter to Halleck is in Ms. at the Huntington Library. Rep. in Virginia Ed., XVII, 89. They differ somewhat, but Kennedy's is most inclusive.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 321:]

(19)  Original Autograph Ms., Huntington Library. The tale in question was “Never Bet Your Head,” which appeared in the September number of Graham's.

(20)  His letter to Poe, August 3, 1841, in the Boston Public Library gives full details concerning his life. He was lame in consequence of a fall.

(21)  “A Chapter on Autography,” Graham's Magazine, December, 1841.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 322:]

(22)  Original Autograph Ms., Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library.

(23)  Original Autograph Ms., Anthony Collection, New York Public Library.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 323:]

(24)  Original Autograph Ms., Author's Club, New York. From photostat furnished by New York Public Library. The remainder of this long letter deals with cryptography.

(25)  Original Autograph Ms., Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 325:]

(26)  See James S. Wilson, “The Devil Was In It,” American Mercury, XXIV (1931), 215-220.

(27)  Pp. 177-179.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 326:]

(28)  “A Few Words on Secret Writing,” Graham's Magazine, XIX (July, 1841), 33-38.

(29)  Alexander's Weekly Messenger. Poe's article, “Enigmatical and Conundrumical,” in the issue of December 18, 1839, includes the offer to solve cryptograms. Many solutions appeared, January 1 to April 29, 1840. The file for 1839 (in the Ohio State Hist. Soc.) was examined by Dr. Mabbott. While my book is in press an article will appear describing a file for 1840, now in the American Antiquarian Society.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 327:]

(30)  Graham's Magazine, XVIII (April, 1841), 203. One of the “characters” in Walsh's article, incidentally, was named “Dupin.”

(31)  See “Edgar Allan Poe, Cryptographer,” by William F. Friedman, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, War Department, Washington, D. C., American Literature, VIII (January, 1937), 266-280. Mr. Friedman states that this cryptogram which Poe described as so difficult was solved in thirty-five minutes by persons who had had exactly ten days’ study of cryptography. He also seems to prove that the difficulty of the cipher sent to Poe by F. W. Thomas, and composed by Dr. Charles S. Frailey, was due not to its complexity but to the outrageous character of its diction. He also called attention to Poe's misquotation of Lord Bacon's remarks on ciphers in De Augmentis, and suggested the probability that Poe was quoting at second hand.

(32)  Autograph Ms. Letter, Thomas to Poe, May 12, 1845, Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 328:]

(33)  “Eleonora” was printed in the New York Weekly Tribune, Vol. I, No. 1, Saturday, September 18, 1841, columns four and five, as “From the Gift for 1842.” It appeared even earlier with a similar note, in the Boston Notion for September 4, 1841. Annuals seem usually to have come out about October, but in this instance a publication date of about September 1, 1841, is suggested for the Gift for 1842.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 329:]

(34)  This description in the story as it appeared in the Gift was omitted in the Broadway Journal, and is not given in the usual reproductions.

(35)  This phrase is also omitted from the later versions.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 330:]

(36)  Those interested will find the source of this story in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 29, 1841, when “Three Thursdays in One Week” appeared anonymously. See F. N. Cherry, American Literature, II (November, 1930), 232-235.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 332:]

(37)  Part II contained Chapters IV to VII, Part III, Chapters VIII to XI. Part I appeared March 10, 1841. The remaining numbers were dated simply 1841.

(38)  The review in the Post is not easy to find. It is reprinted complete in the New York Times Literary Supplement for June 1, 1913, Magazine Section, Part V, under title of “Famous Dickens-Poe Mystery Solved at Last.” The Post review is quoted entire in The Dickensian, II (London, 1913), 174-178, evidently from the Times.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 334:]

(39)  See p. 295.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 336:]

(40)  Original Autograph Ms., Drexel Institute Library, Philadelphia.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 337:]

(41)  In the library of Mr. Henry Bradley Martin, where I have examined it through his courtesy. Mr. George Blumenthal, who once owned the book, had some reproductions made in facsimile, and generously donated one to the Library of the University of Pennsylvania.

(42)  These stories are not included in the text of the revised first volume, but my identification of the titles seems to me to be justified. None of Poe's biographers have apparently seen the Phantasy Pieces, except Dr. John W. Robertson, and he speaks of “The Horse Shade” and “The Teeth” as being “unknown stories.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 340:]

(43)  For detailed description of changes in Phantasy Pieces see Appendix.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 341:]

(44)  Attributed by Woodberry, Century Magazine, XLVIII (September, 1894), 732-733, to “Griswold Mss.,” among which it is not at present. Harrison prints it without reference. It was sold at auction December 16-17, 1929. [[In the 1941 edition, the third sentence read: “It seems authentic.” This sentence was replaced by the statement about the sale in the 1942 edition.]]

(45)  According to Poe's editorial on “The Pay for Periodical Writing,” Weekly Mirror, I (October 19, 1844), 28, Graham paid prose writers from $2 to $12 a page, and poets from $5 to $50 an “article.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 342:]

(46)  Poe claimed this figure was reached before he left Graham's, see his letter to Bryan, July 6, 1842. John Sartain, who engraved the plates, and therefore knew the amounts printed, checks with this figure, but places it at the end of the second year. See his Reminiscences of a Very Old Man, p. 198. [[In the 1941 edition, the date of the letter is erroneously given as July 26, 1842. It was corrected in the 1942 edition.]]

(47)  Poe to Lewis J. Cist, September 18, 1841. I have only a facsimile of the original which was sold in 1927. Poe did contribute a story each month from April, 1841, until September, 1841, but did not continue to publish every month in Graham's. [[In the 1941 edition, the second sentence read: “I have only a facsimile and have not been able to trace the original.” Quinn also originally dates the letter as September 21, 1841. Quinn changed the sentence, and corrected the date, in the 1942 edition.]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 343:]

(48)  Probably the review of Longfellow's Spanish Student which Graham did not publish. The other reviews were published in 1843 and 1844, after Poe left Graham's.

(49)  “The Late Edgar Allan Poe,” Graham's Magazine, XXXVI (March, 1850), 224-226.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 344:]

(50)  Graham's Magazine, XXI, 60.

(51)  Horace W. Smith, Life and Correspondence of Reverend William Smith (Philadelphia, 1879-80), II, 529.



In the original edition of 1941, the sentence marked by footnote 20 read: “Coming from Cincinnati to the Whig Convention in 1840, in Philadelphia, he met Edgar Poe for the first time, and their friendship remained constant.” Quinn corrected the sentence for the edition of 1942, and that version has been presented in the text above.


[S:1 - EAPCB, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn) (Chapter 12)