Tuesday, April 1, 2014

From the Archives: A Rare Piece of Edgar Allan Poe's Private Correspondence

It is with the greatest pleasure that I present this rarely seen letter written to me by the wretch Edgar Allan Poe:

                                                                                                                                 September 1842

My Dearest Griswold

I am much obliged for the copies of the Cabinet [*1] –if you have any other books of interest please do not forget to send them—I will take especial care of any you may deem worthy of my notice.  I will return the aforementioned issues of the Cabinet along with the twenty five dollars you generously loaned me as soon as I have the funds.
            Of particular interest in the Cabinet was Faulkmore’s “Magpie” [*2], which is as fine a poem, in both the style of its versification & expression and its originality, as I have recently encountered. I wonder at its omission from your “Poets of America”.  That it has been published just once, years ago, and forgotten is as unfortunate for the public as it must have seemed for the poet.  Are you certain that it has not seen publication elsewhere?  Do you know what became of Faulkmore?
Have you considered the anthology we discussed?  I know of nothing which would give me more sincere pleasure than to have a man of such exquisite taste and unsurpassed critical faculties as your good self present the comprehensive canon of my work before the public eye.  If you are inclined toward such a project perhaps you would do me the favor of composing a brief prefatory document detailing my biography.  In such a case, as in any future editions of your “Poets”, it would be preferable to me that my works are presented under the name Edgar A Poe, omitting the sobriquet Allan, which I detest.
I trust Graham has made you a good offer to remain in the chair—You are as honest a judge as you are a capable one, and during your tenure with the magazine you have brought about many notable improvements in the general appearance and editorial quality, and above all have rid the Gentleman’s Mag. of the quackery which previously infected it.
I have had word from Reynolds that a certain Mrs. E is seething with resentment over what she perceives as ill treatment from you in your notice on her in “Poets”.  He has told her that she should content herself with the columns allotted her rather than poison the air with her hostile breath but she was unmoved.  I would not worry, however—for all her bleating she seems incapable of any real harm.
Has your wife yet given birth?  You are certainly in an enviable position to have something for which to look forward as a newly minted life, something to occupy the mind other than the embrace of the grave.  Virginia is in good spirits, as always, despite her recent infirmity, and begs me to apologize for suggesting the transaction of which we recently spoke—it was only a need of the greatest importance that impelled me to make such a proposal, indecent though it was.
But perhaps all will yet go well; as I write this I await a meeting with Thomas to secure a Custom-House appointment, which I can no longer doubt that I shall obtain, and will soon, depending on the salary, embark upon the establishment of, if not The Penn, a Journal here or, perhaps in New York.  My days of impoverished anxiety will soon fall behind me, and I shall permit neither my own folly nor any miscarriage of fortune to sour my spirits or blacken my prospects.  I am the master of my own fate.
With high respect and esteem
 I am yr obedient servant, 
Edgar A Poe

[*1] The Hartford Cabinet of Literature & Science (published irregularly from 1826-1831), later became the Hartford Literary Journal.

[*2] "The Magpie" by Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore (b.1799 - d.1828). 

I certainly hope this helps to clear up a few things. 

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