Text: James A. Harrison, “Chapter 08,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XVII: Letters (1902), 17:196-226


[page 196:]






[Griswold Memoir.]

NEW YORK, Jan. 10, 1845.


SIR, — I perceive by a paragraph in the papers, that your “Prose Writers of America” is in press. Unless your opinions of my literary character are entirely changed, you will, I think, like something of mine, and you are welcome to whatever best pleases you, if you will permit me to furnish a corrected copy; but with your present feelings you can hardly do me justice in any criticism, and I shall be glad if you will simply say after my name: “Born 1811;(1) published Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque in 1839; has resided latterly in New York.”

Your obedient servant,  

[page 197:]


[Griswold Memoir.]

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 11, 1845.

SIR, — Although I have some cause of quarrel with you, as you seem to remember, I do not under any circumstances permit, as you have repeatedly charged, my personal relations to influence the expression of my opinions as a critic. By the enclosed proof-sheets of what I had written before the reception of your note, you will see that I think quite as well of your works as I did when I had the pleasure of being

Your friend,  


[Griswold Collection.]

NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 1845.


Although I have some cause of personal quarrel with you, which you will easily enough remember, I do not under any circumstances permit, as you have repeatedly charged, my private griefs to influence my judgment as a critic, or its expression.

I retain, therefore, the early formed and well founded favorable opinions of your works, wh. in other days I have expressed to you, and in a new volume wh. I have in preparation, I shall endeavor to do you very perfect justice.

Hence this note. Carey & Hart are publishing for me “The Prose Authors of America, and their Works,” and I wish, of course, to include you in the list, — not a very large one — from whom I make selections. And I shall feel myself yr debtor if there being any writings of yours with wh. I may be unacquainted, you will advise of their titles, and where they may be purchased; and if, in the brief biography of you in my Poets &c. of [page 198:] America, there are any inaccuracies, you will point them out to me. If the trouble were not too great, indeed, I should like to receive a list of all your works, with the dates of their production.

Yours &c.  

TO EDGAR A. POE, Esq.(1)


[Griswold Memoir.]

NEW YORK, Jan. 16, 1845.

DEAR GRISWOLD, — If you will permit me to call you so — your letter occasioned me first pain and then pleasure: pain, because it gave me to see that I had lost, through my own folly, an honorable friend: — pleasure, because I saw in it a hope of reconciliation. I have been aware, for several weeks, that my reasons for speaking of your book as I did, (of yourself I have always spoken kindly,) were based in the malignant slanders of a mischief-maker by profession. Still, as I supposed you irreparably offended, I could make no advances when we met at the “Tribune” office, although I longed to do so. I know of nothing which would give me more sincere pleasure than your accepting these apologies, and meeting me as a friend. If you can do this, and forget the past, let me know where I shall call on you — or come and see me at the “Mirror” office, any morning about ten. We can then talk over the other matters, which, to me at least, are far less important than your good will.

Very truly yours,  

[page 199:]


Jan. 28, 1845.

To Duane Poe wrote again on January 28th, 1845, saying that Richmond was the last place in which he should expect to get the “Messenger” and for that reason he had not sought it there. He had been trying to make up the volume by getting together separate numbers and now Mr. Duane’s letter had relieved him of the task. Mr. Duane he did not recognize in the matter. Mr. Hirst had insisted on getting the volume for him and to Mr. Hirst it had been returned. Mr. Duane’s quarrel lay with him, and he must send no more insolent letters to Poe.

This letter Duane endorses as received on January 31st, 1845, and not to be answered. He avers that the volume was borrowed by Poe through Hirst, and was sold by Poe to a bookdealer, who sold it to a bookdealer in Richmond, who in turn sold it to the publisher of the Messenger, who again sold it to a friend of Duane commissioned by him to buy him a copy. Duane’s name had in the various sales of the book remained upon the titlepage. When Poe heard of the buying back of the book he exclaimed “What will Mr. Duane think of me!” Duane sent him word that he thought he ought to send him what it had cost — five dollars — but Poe never did, perhaps from sheer inability.(1) [page 200:]


[Griswold Collection.]

NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 1845.

MY DEAR GRISWOLD, — Soon after seeing you I sent you, through Zieber, all my poems worth re-publishing, and I presume they reached you. With this I send you another package, also through Zieber, by Burgess & Stringer. It contains in the way of Essay “Mesmeric Revelation,” which I would like to go in, even if something else is omitted. I send also a portion of the “Marginalia,” in which I have marked some of the most pointed passages. In the matter of criticism I cannot put my hand upon anything that suits me — but I believe that in “funny” criticism (if you wish any such) Flaccus will convey a tolerable idea of my style, and of my serious manner Barnaby Rudge is a good specimen. In “Graham” you will find these. In the tale line I send you “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Man that was used up” — far more than enough, you will say — but you can select to suit yourself. I would prefer having in the “Gold Bug” to the “Murders in the R. M.,” but have not a copy just now. If there is no immediate hurry for it, however, I will get one & send it you corrected. Please write & let me know if you get this. I have taken a 3d interest in the “Broadway Journal” & [page 201:] will be glad if you could send me anything, at any time, in the way of “Literary Intelligence.”

Truly yours,  


[Same letter as printed in the Griswold Memoir.]

FEBRUARY 24, 1845.

MY DEAR GRISWOLD — A thousand thanks for your kindness in the matter of those books, which I could not afford to buy, and had so much need of. Soon after seeing you, I sent you, through Zieber, all my poems worth re-publishing, and I presume they reached you. I was sincerely delighted with what you said of them, and if you will write your criticism in the form of a preface, I shall be greatly obliged to you. I say this not because you praised me: everybody praises me now: but because you so perfectly understand me, or what I have aimed at, in all my poems: I did not think you had so much delicacy of appreciation joined with your strong sense; I can say truly that no man’s approbation gives me so much pleasure. I send you with this another package, also through Zieber, by Burgess and Stringer. It contains, in the way of essay, “Mesmeric Revelation,” which I would like to have go in, even if you have to omit the “House of Usher.” I send also corrected copies of (in the way of funny criticism, but you don’t like this) “Flaccus,” which conveys a tolerable idea of my style; and of my serious manner “Barnaby Rudge” is a good specimen. In the tale line, “The Murders of the Rue Morgue,” “The Gold Bug,” and the “Man that was Used Up,” — far more than enough, but you can select to [page 202:] suit yourself. I prefer the “G. B.” to the “M. in the R. M.” I have taken a third interest in the “Broadway Journal,” and will be glad if you could send me anything for it. Why not let me anticipate the book publication of your splendid essay on Milton?

Truly yours,  


[Griswold Collection.]

(19 APR. ’45 — pencil note.)

DEAR GRISWOLD, — I return the proof, with many thanks for your attentions. The poems look as well in the short metre as in the long, and I am quite content as it is. You will perceive, however, that some of the lines have been divided at the wrong place. I have marked them right in the proof; but lest there should be any misapprehension, I copy them as they should be:

Stanza 11.

Till the dirges of his Hope the

Melancholy burden bore.

Stanza 12.

Straight I wheel’d a cushion’d seat in

Front of bird and bust and door.

Stanza 12 — again.

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly

Gaunt and ominous bird of yore.

Stanza 13.

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now

Burn’d into my bosom’s core;

Near the beginning of the poem you have “nodded” spelt “nooded.” [page 203:]

In the “Sleeper” the line

Forever with uncloséd eye,

should read

Forever with unopen’d eye.

Is it possible to make the alteration?

Very sincerely yours,  

P. S. I presume you understand that in the repetition of my Lecture on the Poets (in N. Y.) I left out all that was offensive to yourself?


[Griswold Collection.]

May 4, 1845.

MY DEAR THOMAS, — In the hope that you have not yet quite given me up, as gone to Texas, or elsewhere, I sit down to write you a few words. I have been intending to do the same thing ever since I received your letter before the last — but for my life and soul I could not find, nor make, an opportunity. The fact is, that being seized, of late, with a fit of industry, I put so many irons in the fire all at once, that I have been quite unable to get them out. For the last three or four months I have been working 14 or 15 hours a day — hard at it all the time — and so, whenever I took pen in hand to write, I found that I was neglecting something that would be attended to. I never knew what it was to be a slave before.

And yet, Thomas, I have made no money. I am as poor now as ever I was in my life — except in [page 204:] hope, which is by no means bankable. I have taken a 3d pecuniary interest in the “Broadway Journal,” and for everything I have written for it have been, of course, so much out of pocket. In the end, however, it will pay me well — at least the prospects are good. Say to Dow for me that there never has been a chance for my repaying him, without putting myself to greater inconvenience than he himself would have wished to subject me to, had he known the state of the case. Nor am I able to pay him now. The Devil himself was never so poor. Say to Dow, also, that I am sorry he has taken to dunning in his old age — it is a diabolical practice, altogether unworthy “a gentleman & a scholar” — to say nothing of the Editor of the “Madisonian.” I wonder how he would like me to write him a series of letters — say one a week — giving him the literary gossip of New-York — or something of more general character. I would furnish him such a series for whatever he could afford to give me. If he agrees to this arrangement, ask him to state the length & character of the letters — how often — and how much he can give me. Remember me kindly to him & tell him I believe that dunning is his one sin — although at the same time, I do think it is the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost spoken of in the Scriptures. I am going to mail him the “Broadway Journal” regularly, & hope he will honor me with an exchange.

My dear Thomas, I hope you will never imagine, from any seeming neglect of mine, that I have forgotten our old friendship. There is no one in the world I would rather see at this moment than yourself; and many are the long talks we have about you and yours. Virginia & Mrs. Clemm beg to be remembered to you [page 205:] in the kindest terms. Do write me fully when you get this, and let me know particularly what you are about.

I send you an early number of the “B. Journal” containing my “Raven.” It was copied by Briggs, my associate, before I joined the paper. “The Raven” has had a great “run,” Thomas — but I wrote it for the express purpose of running — just as I did the “Gold-Bug,” you know. The bird beat the bug, though, all hollow.

Do not forget to write immediately, & believe me
Most sincerely your friend,  

[There is an asterisk after the name “Dow” in the text, and note saying “see note on 3d page,” which is as follows: —]

Poe here mentions our mutual friend Jesse E. Dow, who is the author of that capital sketch of “Ironsides on a Seashore,” and many beautiful fugitive poems. Dow had been in office and was removed, and no doubt at the time was in pressing need of the money which he had lent to Poe, or there would have been no “dunning” as Poe calls it. Dow is now dead — he was possessed of the noblest qualities of head and heart. He was not a man, however, whose genius was cultivated with the artistic and learned skill of Poe’s, it was rather the child of feeling than of thought, and he wrote because he felt impelled to write as Chatham said he felt “impelled to speak.” It was delightful to hear the two talk together, and to see how Poe would start at some of Dow’s strange notions as he called them. T. [page 206:]


[Griswold Collection.]

9 PARK PLACE. [Undated.]

MY DEAR POE, — I need not say that I would gladly do that, or anything else to serve you, but it would be put down at once to quid-pro-quosity, & therefore bad taste.

Why reply directly to Mr. Briggs? If you want a shuttlecock squib to fall on the ground, never battledore it straight back. Mr. B’s attacks on me I never saw, & never shall see. I keep a good-sense-ometer who reads the papers & tells me if there is anything worth replying to, but nothing is that is written by a man who will be honor’d by the reply. A reply from me to Mr. Briggs would make the man. So will yours, if you exalt him into your mate by contending on equal terms. If you care to punish him, attack him on some other subject, & as an anonymous writer whose name is not worth giving. Notoriety is glory in this transition state of our half-bak’d country. But come & see me, & we’ll talk it over.

Yours in haste but very sincerely  

POE TO ———. [[G. W. Eveleth]]

On the subject ofThe Raven.”

[From Ingram’s Life.]


What you say about the blundering criticism of “the Hartford Review man” is just. For the purposes of poetry it is quite sufficient that a thing is possible, or at least that the improbability be not offensively glaring. It is true that in several ways, as you say, the lamp might have thrown the bird’s shadow on the floor. My conception was that of the [page 207:] bracket candelabrum affixed against the wall, high up above the door and bust, as is often seen in the English palaces, and even in some of the better houses of New York.

Your objection to the tinkling of the footfalls is far more pointed, and in the course of composition occurred so forcibly to myself that I hesitated to use the term. I finally used it, because I saw that it had, in its first conception, been suggested to my mind by the sense of the supernatural with which it was, at the moment, filled. No human or physical foot could tinkle on a soft carpet, therefore, the tinkling of feet would vividly convey the supernatural impression. This was the idea, and it is good within itself; but if it fails, (as I fear it does,) to make itself immediately and generally felt, according to my intention, then in so much is it badly conveyed, or expressed.

Your appreciation of “The Sleeper” delights me. In the higher qualities of poetry it is better than “The Raven;” but there is not one man in a million who could be brought to agree with me in this opinion. “The Raven,” of course, is far the better as a work of art; but in the true basis of all art, “The Sleeper” is the superior. I wrote the latter when quite a boy.

You quote, I think, the two best lines in “The Valley of Unrest” — those about the “palpitating trees.”


[Griswold Collection.]


EDGAR A. POE, Esqr., — (I regret that) I have not a more legible manuscript of the Comedy to submit to your perusal, or even one containing all the corrections [page 208:] made at the suggestion of critical advisers. The only fair copy is in the hands of the managers, and that I could not procure. Your criticisms will be prized — I am sorry that they could not have been made before preparations for the performance of the Comedy had progressed so far.

Will you have the goodness to return the manuscript at your earliest convenience, addressed James Mowatt, care Messrs. Judd & Taylor No. 2 Astor House?

Respectfully yrs &c  
[Signature missing.]

4th Avenue 5 doors above Twentieth street.




[Griswold Collection.]

LONDON, May, 17/45.  

MY DEAR SIR, — After so long a delay of my last letter to you, I am at all events glad to hear that it reached you — or rather, that you, in diving among the shoals at the Post Office, had contrived to fish it up. But matters do not seem to mend in this respect; for your present letter of the date of Jany 25th/45 only reached my house at the latter end of April. In short, we might as well correspond from Calcutta, as far as time is concerned. However, I am glad that the letters reach their destination at all, and so that none are lost; we must be patient.

I have only just returned from a nine months’ absence in Germany. I principally resided during this time in the Rhine Provinces. I take the earliest opportunity of thanking you for all attentions.

As I thought your letter to me contained more of the bright side of criticism than the “Broadway Journal” I sent it to my friend Miss Barrett. She returned it with [page 209:] a note, half of which I tear off, and send you (confidentially) that you may see in what a good and noble spirit she receives the critique — in which, as you say, the shadows do certainly predominate. Well, for my own part, I think a work should be judged by its merits chiefly — since faults and imperfections are certain to be found in all works, but the highest merits only in a few. Therefore the highest merits seem to me to be naturally the first and main points to be considered.

Miss Barrett has read the “Raven” and says she thinks there is a fine lyrical melody in it. When I tell you that this lady “says” you will be so good as understand that I mean “writes” — for although I have corresponded with Miss Barrett these 5 or 6 years, I have never seen her to this day. Nor have I been nearer to doing so, than talking with her father and sisters.

I am of the same opinion as Miss Barrett about the “Raven;” and it also seems to me that the poet intends to represent a very painful condition of mind, as of an imagination that was liable to topple over into some delirium or an abyss of melancholy, from the continuity of one unvaried emotion.

Tennyson I have not seen, nor heard from yet, since my return. It is curious that you should ask me for opinions of the only two poets with whom I am especially intimate. Most of the others I am acquainted with, but am not upon such terms of intellectual sympathy and friendship as with Miss Barrett and Tennyson. But I do not at this moment know where Tennyson is.

You mention that an American publisher would probably like to reprint “Orion,” and I therefore send a copy for that purpose, or probability. I also send a copy, in which I have written your name, together with a copy of “Gregory VII.” and two copies of “Introductory Comments” (to the 2nd Edn of the Nw Spt of the Age) of which I beg your acceptance. Of “Chaucer Modernized” I do not possess any other [page 210:] copy than the one in my own library, and believe it is out of print; but if you would like to have a copy of Schlegel’s “Lectures on Dramatic Literature” (to wh I wrote an Introduction to the 2nd Edn) I shall be happy to forward you the vols, and any others of my own you wd like to have — that is, if I have copies of them. “Cosmo de Medici,” for instance, I could send you.

I have made no revision of “Orion” for the proposed new Edition. The fact is, I have not time, and moreover am hardly disposed to do much to it, after so many editions. I had rather write (almost) another long poem.

I shall be happy to send you a short poem or two for your Magazine directly it is established, or for the 1st No., if there be time for you to let me know.

I am, dear Sir,

Yours truly,  


[Griswold Collection.]

OAKY GROVE, GA., Sept. 9th, 1845.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — I have just received your letter, dated the 29th of August. What can you be thinking about to ask me what I could have been thinking about, when I referred to the letter I wrote from Philadelphia, and also from this place, immediately after my return home? You say rightly when you suppose that I “have been in Dreamland!” Where could I have been to have supposed, for a moment, that you would have sent me on the papers containing any of your pieces, as I requested? I acknowledge to you, frankly, that I have been in Paradise ever since I returned home. It is Paradise all about here where my wife is. I dream mighty dreams in her presence sometimes. I will tell you one of them some [page 211:] of these days. Her footsteps pave the world with happiness — that is, the world wherein I live.

You say I “puzzle” you in regard to the money. It is no “puzzle” at all. I should have sent you the money in my last letter, had I received it two days sooner. I received $200 the next day after my return home, which I lent to a friend of mine immediately afterwards, who has not been able to return it to me since. As soon as —— returns from Green County, where he is now gone with his wife to see her relations, and have another child during their absence, I will send it to you — as he is owing me a great deal not only of estates, but borrowed moneys. I am sorry that I cannot accommodate you at present, as it would give me great pleasure to do so. I will send it to you as soon as possible, but to you alone. You are always talking to me about the “paper.” “Cuss” the paper! what do I care for the “paper? The “paper” will do me no more good than it will any body else. I have no interest in it — it is in your individual welfare and happiness that I have an interest — an abiding, disinterested, heartborn interest — although I should like to see the paper flourish, as it would be an interest to you. For Heaven’s sake! do not connect my respect for you with any worldly matter — as it does not belong to the world at all. I see plainly that you do not know me. I would not let you have a cent for any other consideration than the heartborn respect which I feel for you, as your friend — one who desires, from the bottom of his heart, your welfare and happiness, in every respect whatever. My dear Poe! you must not practice lip service with me — you must talk from the bottom of your heart when you talk to me. I am your friend, and, therefore, whenever I talk to you, it is out of the substance of my heart. It is an absolute waste of time, as well as a sin against God, to talk any other way. It is of no use for you ever to attempt to flatter me, as I am just as far above it as Heaven is above the hot burning bottom of Hell. I believe that you are my friend — therefore I cannot believe [page 212:] that you would put yourself to the trouble to do such a losing business. For, supposing that I was fool enough to receive it, it would do you no good, at the same time that it would be doing an injury to me. This, I know, you would not do. I will aid you, and assist you in every way possible, but I will do it only for the friendship which I have for you. You say that you have looked for the “Commercial Bank of Florida” for me. I wish you would do all you can immediately, and let me know upon the reception of this letter. I must have it before the first of October, or I will lose $210. It is for my brother who let me have that amount four years ago, which I took with me to New York, and knowing it was not worth anything, I gave it to my children to play with, until it got destroyed. As soon as he found out this, when we were making a settlement for the hire of my negroes, he made out like he wanted it. I told him that I would get him the same amount on the day that his note becomes due — which is the first of October — or deduct the amount of the Florida money he let me have out of it. So, you see, if I do not get it, I will lose $210. I must hear from you immediately so that I can have time to write to the Governor of Florida to get it for me. You must go immediately, upon the reception of this letter, into Wall Street, and see what you can do. I was distracted about home just before I left, else I would have gotten it myself. I was labouring under mental excitement all the time I was in that place so that I could neither talk nor write whenever I saw you. I am just as different now as if I were not the same man. My Poems have been spoken of in the very highest terms in this state by all who have seen them. Several papers have republished your notice, at the same time that you were spoken of in the highest terms. They have praised the “Heavenly Vision,” and the Poem “To Isa Singing,” beyond measure. The Editor of the “Southern Courant,” who has spoken well of them, is a gentleman of splendid talents, — so is the Editor of the “Federal [page 213:] Vision,” of Milledgeville. Passages in the “Lost Pleiad” have been very much lauded. Some like the “Soul’s Destiny;” To Allegra Florence in Heaven;” “To My Mother in Heaven,” and the Poem on “Hearing Von Weber’s Last Waltz.” I see that the papers everywhere are speaking disrespectfully of Willis’ puerilities and dilletantism. I really think well of “Luciferian Revelation,” and want you to publish it soon, and send me the paper. I am writing a Poem you will like. “The Release of Fiommala,” I like. One of the other Sonnets I have altered a little, I think for the better. They were written right out of my heart, as I write everything. Poetry, with me, is the melodious expression of my very being. Tell Colton I sent him an article sometime ago, but had no way to pay the postage, as I gave it to the Stage Driver in the road. Give him my love, for he is a fine fellow in every sense of the word. I intend to get him several subscribers in these parts soon — he may depend on that.

The remarks which I made to you in regard to Tennyson’s Poems, were not intended to be critical, as I was too much fatigued always when I saw you to talk as I could were you with me now. “The Gardener’s Daughter;” “Recollections of the Arabian Nights;” and “Locksley Hall,” are the best. He is a lofty imitator of Shelley, without a tithe of his force. He possesses fine ideality, but there is too much conventional grotesqueness of abandon, with too little artistical skill, in him to be compared with Shelley. If you think he is even a musical imitator of Shelley, just get his Poems and disabuse your mind at once. He has fine ideality, but not the artistical force of Horne. One of his greatest and unpardonable faults consists in his not appealing, in any understandable language, to any of the most universal feelings of the heart of Man. He does not sing Truth — that Angel-mission for the fulfilment of which the Poet was sent down by God out of Heaven. Poetry is [page 214:] the most godlike expression of that which is most true. It is, therefore, the loftiest medium of the most exalted truths.

You intimate that you will take a fraternal interest in my welfare and farm, but wish to do it in your “own way.” This is what I wish. I do not wish to urge you into any remarks you may deem it necessary to make about my writings. I feel confident you will do what is right. — Amen.

You say you have not touched a drop of the ashes of Hell since I left New York. That’s a man. For God’s sake, but more for your own, never touch another drop. Why should a Man whom God, by nature, has endowed with such transcendent abilities, so degrade himself into the veriest automaton as to be moved only by the poisonous steam of Hell-fire? Your body is a harp — not an evil-spirit-engine — made by the hands of God, in the most perfect manner, to be stricken by the spiritual fingers of your Heaven-born soul. Why, it is absolutely making monkey-motions at the dignity of God, as revealed in your own nature, to permit an animal appetite to weigh down the dove-like and Heaven-aspiring wings of that Angel of immortality which now lives in the temple of your body, — the delight and glory of the world.

You speak of Books sent — but I have seen none. I wrote for Bush’s Psychological work, recently published by Bidding.

You say “I am resolved not to touch a drop,” &c. Did you mean by this that if you touched many drops that you would not be impinging upon your promise? Think of this.

Give your wife and Mrs. Clemm my most earnest desire for their welfare and happiness. My wife sends them her sincerest love. Send me any paper that contains anything of yours. If you don’t, I am determined to play Old Dick with youif possible. Give my love [page 215:] to Bisco. Tell him I will give him a hearty shake of the hand when I return to Novum Eboracum, alias Sodom. Give my love to Colton. I have just finished eating one of the finest watermelons I ever saw, —

“Sweet as that soul-uplifting hydromel

Ideian Ganymede did give to Jove

In the God-kingdoms of immortal love,

Dipt from Heaven’s everlasting golden well,” etc.

This is the commencement of a “Sonnet on Reading Milton’s Paradise Lost,” which I will send you some of these days. I have been trying to send you some peaches, but never could find the opportunity. I write this letter in great haste, and on bad paper — you must excuse the carelessness with which it is written, as I have scarcely time before the mail is closed. For God’s sake, if you have the least respect for me, get the Florida money. When you go down to Wall street, inquire at the Express office if there is any package for me. Tell the P. M. to send me all letters and papers in the office here. Do all this, will you?

God bless you.


E. A. POE, Esq.


[Duyckinck Collection, New York Public Library.]

MY DEAR DUYCKINCK, — I leave for you what I think the best of my Poems. They are very few — including those only which have not been published in volume form. If they can be made to fill a book, it will be better to publish them alone — but if not, I can hand you some “Dramatic Scenes” from the [page 216:] S. L. Messenger (2d Vol.) and “Al Aaraaf” and “Tamerlane,” two juvenile poems of some length.

Truly yours  

Wednesday 10th [Sept. 1845?]


[Griswold Memoir.]

October 26, 1845.

MY DEAR GRISWOLD, — Will you aid me at a pinch — at one of the greatest pinches conceivable? If you will, I will be indebted to you for life. After a prodigious deal of manœuvering, I have succeeded in getting the “Broadway Journal” entirely within my own control. It will be a fortune to me if I can hold it — and I can do it easily with a very trifling aid from my friends. May I count you as one? Lend me $50, and you shall never have cause to regret it.

Truly yours,  

[page 217:]


[W. M. Griswold MS.]

NEW YORK, Octo. 26, ’45.

MY DEAR MR. KENNEDY, — When you were in New York, I made frequent endeavors to meet you, but in vain, as I was forced to go to Boston. I stand much in need of your aid, and beg you to afford it me, if possible, for the sake of the position which you already have enabled me to obtain.

By a series of manœuvres almost incomprehensible to myself I have succeeded in getting rid, one by one, of all my associates in “The Broadway Journal,” and (as you will see by last week’s paper) have now become sole editor and owner. It will be a fortune to me if I can hold it — and if I can hold it for one month I am quite safe — as you shall see. I have exhausted all my immediate resources in the purchase — and I now write to ask you for a small loan — say $50. I will punctually return it in three months.

Most truly yours,  


[Griswold Collection.]

OAKY GROVE, GA., Oct. 30, 1845.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — In the first place, I want you to let me know what is the reason you have not written to me before this? You are in the arrears two or three [page 218:] letters at least. In the second place, I want to know if you are unable to write to me? If so, I should like very much for you to get somebody to be your amanuensis. I have a “crow to pick with you” — as the old saying is. I have felt like quarreling with you ever since I left New York. Solomon says, “There is a time for all things — a time to laugh — a time to weep — and a time to dance.” Well, I verily believe, from the bottom of my heart, that the venerable religious Savant was right. There is not only a time for all this, but a time in which a Man will forget his best friend. As Milton says, “We have fallen upon evil days!” There is no mistake in that. Who would have believed it? Nobody. If an Angel had descended from Heaven and told me you would have forgotten me this early, I would not have believed him. So much for the incredulity of a friend. Now for the subject matter in hand.

I want you to tell me what you meant by telling me that I had given a false accent to Archytas, in my Poem, entitled “The Wife’s Lament for Her Husband Lost at Sea”? I felt conscious, while you were talking to me, that I was right. How, in the name of Heaven! did you ever happen to make the mistake? Were you not conscious, while you were talking to me, that you were wrong? I cannot believe that you did it wilfully — as I have the highest opinion of you of any man living. It was a most astonishing oversight of your Eagle-eye. The correct accentuation is just as I have it. It is pronounced Archytas — just as I have it in my Poem. In the way that you have altered it, you have entirely changed the rhythm of the line — making a tautology of it, by repeating the words “from out” of the line above. Are not nouns in the Greek, ending as, es, os, &c., short in the last syllable? Was I not also right in using Orion in the way that I did? I know, very well, that the best way to use it is to lengthen the penult; but this is not the only way to pronounce it — as it is made long not by nature, but by authority. Ainsworth places a diæresis over the [page 219:] first vowel of the diphthong — giving it the same pronunciation that Adams does. Adams says, “In Greek words, when a vowel comes before another, no certain rule concerning its quantity can be given.” Sometimes it is short — sometimes it is long — and often it is common — as is the case with Orion, Geryon, Eos, Chorea, &c.

I sent a Poem to Mr. Colton, some time ago, entitled “The Dying Swan,” in which is the following line, which I wish you to correct:

“Until great Poseidon did hold his breath,” &c.

Poseidon is the Greek God of the sea, as Neptune is of the Romans, and should have been pronounced thus — Posīdon — with the accent on the penult. Therefore, I wish you to alter the tine, in which you will find the above-named word, thus —

“Till great Poseidon held his mighty breath,

The tribute of rare audience mutely giving,” &c.

I was led to make this mistake by thinking of your pronunciation of the proper name, Archytas. If you are right in regard to Archytas, I am right in the way that I have pronounced Poseidon. I have altered the line, containing Orion, thus —

“Now like Or?on on some cloudless night,” &c.

One thing is certain, I am right in regard to the pronunciation of the name of Plato’s master in Astronomy, and the great philosopher of Tarentum, and you are wrong — as you said to me once.

There are many lines in Horne’s Orion which are Catalectic, and some Hypercatalectic. Of the former, the following is one —

“Forceful Blastor — smooth Encolyon.”

Encolyon is not pronounced En-col-ȳ-on.

The following line is Hypercatalectic:

“In language critical, final, stolid, astute.” [page 220:]

Besides, it is totally destitute of rhythm. I have discovered no such thing as this in Tennyson’s Poems. There is a fine finish — a more elaborate perfection in the Poems of Tennyson than in any Poet that ever lived. Every line is a study. Nevertheless Horne is a glorious genius, and I love him from the bottom of my heart. The “United States Journal” publishes a mean notice of the “Star of Tycho Brache,” which you delivered in Boston. No man can be the friend of another who would give publicity to any such foul slander. If you will send it on to me, I will not call you “simple-minded,” as you did me; but will give it a handsome notice here in the South. The Hon. H. V. Johnson, in reviewing my book, has changed “simple-minded” into sincere-minded, as this compound appeared to him to correspond better with your foregoing remarks. You see that I have given you thunder in this letter, and I now wish you to answer it, and enlighten me upon every thing to which I have adverted. Will you do so? To be sure you will. You are the most punctual correspondent living. Remember the supernal “Oneness,” and let the Devil take the “Infernal Twoness.”

Your sincere friend forever,  

E. A. POE, Esqr.

Do not fail, for God’s sake, to write me if you will continue the B. J. for a year, and I will send you $3.00 more for it from the same person. I will send the money you spoke of soon, $45.00.


[Griswold Memoir.]

November 1, 1845.

MY DEAR GRISWOLD, — Thank you for the $25. And since you will allow me to draw upon you for the other [page 221:] half of what I asked, if it shall be needed at the end of a month, I am just as grateful as if it were all in hand, — for my friends here have acted generously by me. Don’t have any more doubts of my success. I am, by the way, preparing an article about you for the B. J., in which I do you justice — which is all you can ask of any one.

Ever truly yours,  


[Duyckinck Collection.]

Thursday Morning — 13th [Nov. 1845].  
85 Amity St.

MY DEAR MR DUYCKINCK, — For the first time during two months I find myself entirely myself — dreadfully sick and depressed, but still myself. I seem to have just awakened from some horrible dream, in which all was confusion, and suffering — relieved only by the constant sense of your kindness, and that of one or two other considerate friends. I really believe that I have been mad — but indeed I have had abundant reason to be so. I have made up my mind to a step which will preserve me, for the future, from at least the greater portion of the troubles which have beset me. In the meantime, I have need of the most active exertion to extricate myself from the embarrassments into which I have already fallen — and my object in writing you this note is, (once again) to beg your aid. Of course I need not say to you that my most urgent trouble is the want of ready money. I find that what I said to you about the prospects of the B. J. is strictly correct. The most trifling immediate relief would put it on an [page 222:] excellent footing. All that I want is time in which to look about me; and I think that it is in your power to afford me this.

I have already drawn from Mr Wiley, first $30 — then io (from yourself) — then 10 (on account of the “Parnassus”) — then 50 (when I went to Boston) — and finally 25 — in all 135. Mr Wiley owes me, for the Poems, 75, and admitting that 1500 of the Tales have been sold, and that I am to receive 8 cts a copy — the amount which you named, if I remember — admitting this, he will owe me $120. on them: — in all 195. Deducting what I have received there is a balance of 60 in my favor. If I understood you, a few days ago, Mr W. was to settle with me in February. Now, you will already have anticipated my request. It is that you would ask Mr W. to give me, to-day, in lieu of all farther claim, a certain sum whatever he may think advisable. So dreadfully am I pressed, that I would willingly take even the $60 actually due, (in lieu of all farther demand) than wait until February: — but I am sure that you will do the best for me that you can.

Please send your answer to 85 Amity St. and believe me — with the most sincere friendship and ardent gratitude



[Duyckinck Collection.]

Thursday Morning [Nov. 13? 1845].

MY DEAR MR. DUYCKINCK, — I am dreadfully unwell, and fear that I shall be very seriously ill. Some [page 223:] matters of domestic affliction have also happened which deprive me of what little energy I have left — and I have resolved to give up the B. Journal and retire to the country for six months, or perhaps a year, as the sole means of recruiting my health and spirits. Is it not possible that yourself or Mr Mathews might give me a trifle for my interest in the paper? Or, if this cannot be effected, might I venture to ask you for an advance of $50 on the faith of the “American Parnassus”? — which I will finish as soon as possible. If you could oblige me in this manner I would feel myself under the deepest obligation. Will you be so kind as to reply by the bearer?

Most sincerely yours  



[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

NEW YORK: Nov. 30, 45.

DEAR SIR, — Since the period when (no doubt for good reasons) you declined aiding me with the loan of $50, I have perseveringly struggled, against a thousand difficulties, and have succeeded, although not in making money, still in attaining a position in the world of Letters, of which, under the circumstances, I have no reason to be ashamed.

For these reasons — because I feel that I have exerted myself to the utmost — and because I believe that you will appreciate my efforts to elevate the family name — I now appeal to you once more for aid. [page 224:]

With this letter I send you a number of “The Broadway Journal” of which, hitherto, I have been merely editor and one third proprietor. I have lately purchased the whole paper — and, if I can retain it, it will be a fortune to me in a short time: — but I have exhausted all my resources in the purchase. In this emergency I have thought that you might not be indisposed to assist me. The loan of $200 would put me above all difficulty.

I refrain from saying any more — for I feel that if your heart is kindly disposed towards me, I have already.(1) ...


[Griswold Collection.]

DEAR POE, — I was in Virginia when your letter came to Baltimore and did not return until very recently, which will account for my delay in acknowledging it. I take great pleasure in hearing of your success in your career, and am an attentive reader of what comes from your pen. You have acquired a very honorable reputation in letters, but nothing less than I predicted at the time of our first acquaintance. When in New York, a month ago, I called at your Broadway Journal establishment in the hope of meeting you, but was told you were just setting out for Providence, and as I received your card the same day I took it for granted you had left it only in the moment of your departure and I therefore made no further effort to see you. I trust you turn the Journal to a good account. It would have given me pleasure to assist you in this enterprise in the manner your letter suggested, but that I could not do. Good wishes are pretty nearly all the capital I have for such speculations. I hear of you very [page 225:] often, and although I perceive you have some enemies, it may gratify you to know that you have also a good array of friends. When it falls in your way to visit Baltimore both Mrs Kennedy and myself would be much pleased to receive you on our old terms of familiar acquaintance and regard.

Very truly  


BALT. Dec. 1, 1845.


[Broadway Joumal, 1845.]

BOSTON, December 16, 1845.

DEAR SIR, — Your account of M. Valdemar’s case has been universally copied in this city, and has created a very great sensation. It requires from me no apology, in stating, that I have not the least doubt of the possibility of such a phenomenon; for I did actually restore to active animation a person who died from excessive drinking of ardent spirits. He was placed in his coffin ready for interment.

You are aware that death very often follows excessive excitement of the nervous system; this arising from the extreme prostration which follows; so that the vital powers have not sufficient energy to react.

I will give you the detailed account on your reply to this, which I require for publication, in order to put at rest the growing impression that your account is merely a splendid creation of your own brain, not having any truth in fact. My dear sir, I have battled the storm of public derision too long on the subject of Mesmerism, to be now found in the rear ranks — though I have not publicly lectured for more than two years, I have steadily made it a subject of deep investigation. [page 226:]

I sent the account to my friend Dr. Elliotson of London; also to The Zoist — to which journal I have regularly contributed.

Your early reply will oblige, which I will publish, with your consent, in connection with the case I have referred to.

Believe me yours, most respectfully,  


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 196:]

1.  Poe was born in 1809. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 198:]

1.  This letter was printed only in part by Griswold in his “Memoir.” — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 199, running to the bottom of page 200:]

1.  See letter of date October 28th, 1844. In the whole matter Poe seems to have been, as at other times in his life, the victim of circumstances. That his intentions were the best is shown in his letter to Mrs. Clemm of April 7th, 1844. It is possible that Mrs. Clemm returned another book and in the haste and details of [page 200:] her moving their effects to New York the volume was included among the books of Poe’s that were sold. Or indeed there is the other alternative — and probably the solution of the question — that some busy fingers had taken it from Mr. Hirst’s office and disposed of it. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 216:]

1.  For Poe’s high opinion of Mr. E. A. Duyckinck, see “The Literati.” Mr. Duyckinck was the editor of “Arcturus,” “the best magazine (says Poe) in many respects ever published in the United States,” and editor of the “Cyclopedia of American Literature” (in which he was assisted by his brother George). He selected and edited twelve of Poe’s tales known as “the edition of 1845,” in Wiley and Putnam’s “Library of American Books.” — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 217:]

1.  This is a copy of the original, certified as correct by C. B. Foote, who apparently bought the original of Mr. Griswold. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 224:]

1.  A break occurs here in the original. — ED.





[S:1 - JAH17, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Complete Works of E. A. Poe (Vol. 17 - Letters) (J. A. Harrison) (Chapter 08)