Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Dorset to Ernest Marriott [none given] on 15 March 1904.
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Wallace, Alfred Russell [sic]. (c.1930). Edgar Allan Poe: A Series of Seventeen Letters Concerning Poe's Scientific Erudition in Eureka and His Authorship of Leonainie. Privately printed. 1-18. [p. 17-18]
Transcriber: Smith, Charles Hyde
Transcription date: February 7, 2013
Scrutiny: 08/02/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
[]1 [p. 17]
March 15th. 1904
Dear Mr. Marriott:
Thanks for your last note & extract from the "Academy." All the facts in it have come to me from other sources, except one--that Bryant was among the believers in the Poe origin of "Leonainie". That encourages me to think that I may yet be right. As you seem almost as much interested in the question as myself, I enclose you one of my proofs of letter for the next "Fortnightly" just to hand embodying all the facts yet received, with my criticisms. I shall be obliged if you will read this & let me know if you can suggest any modifications of my views or expressions. I have endeavoured to do full justice to Riley, while showing the reasons for my conclusion that he did not write Leonainie or has given no proofs that he did, I do not want to commit myself to a positive statement of belief, but if I and others doubt, it is certainly Riley's own fault (if he did write it) that he has treated the whole thing as if he was ashamed of it, & wished it to be forgotten.
One would think, if his story is true, that his friends in the Office would have been taken into his confidence in the composition of the poem as well as in the mere mechanical part, as their criticism as to making it like Poe's style would have been valuable.
But there is no indication whatever that this was done. He gave them the completed "copy", they simply [] [p. 18] imitated the Poe writing & helped in the story. There is not one witness adduced for the fact that it was Riley's original composition. Why, the very name is an inspiration of genius!
Yours very truly
(signed) Alfred R. Wallace.
Please return the proof soon if you have any suggestions to make.
1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Fourteenth of fifteen letters in a pamphlet, a background to which is as follows: In 1904 Wallace published a pair of short essays (S612 and S614) describing what he had mistakenly taken to be a previously unknown poem by Edgar Allan Poe. This turned out to be a hoax that had been perpetrated by the Indiana writer James Whitcomb Riley some years earlier. In late 1903 Wallace had entered into a correspondence with the literary figure Ernest Marriott about this matter; sometime later Wallace's part of the correspondence--seventeen letters in all (actually, fifteen separately dated ones)--was collected and turned into a privately printed pamphlet. Who did this and when it was done is unknown, though it could not have taken place any later than 1930 (by which time both Wallace and Marriott were long dead), the date a copy of the pamphlet was added to the New York Public Library's collection.
SOURCE OF TRANSCRIPT
This transcript originates from Charles H. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page website (http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm): See http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S708.htm
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