The Materialistic Maiden

Where I sip coffee and judge everyone.

Category: 19th Century Historical Figures

“Weel, Fitz, I’m here”—On Joseph Rodman Drake’s Scottish epistle, written for Fitz-Greene Halleck

For the past several weeks I have had a single poem running over and over through my mind. Because these lines have haunted me relentlessly, night and day, I feel compelled to share them. However, before we read the piece, I must provide context for the poem and its author.

“A Poet’s Epistle,” written by Joseph Rodman Drake, stems from an epistle written by Drake to his very good friend, Fitz-Greene Halleck, while abroad in Scotland. Drake, a young poet who died at age 25, acquainted himself with Halleck during Autumn of 1812, and the two “became devoted friends” very quickly, according to James Grant Wilson in his book, Life and Letters of Fitz-Greene Halleck (163). Their friendship was further solidified during the year 1813, “when Halleck, in the course of a conversation on the delights of another world, fancifully remarked that it would be heaven to ‘lounge upon the rainbow and read Tom Campbell.’ Drake was delighted with the thought, and from that hour the two poets maintained a friendship only severed by death” (163). Their friendship is furthermore evinced by the deep-rooted, brotherly love they shared, as, upon Drake’s untimely death, Fitz-Greene stated, “There will be less sunshine for me hereafter” (163). This weighted statement, paired with a poem written by Halleck and dedicated to Drake, entitled “On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake”, showcases the profound grief that Fitz-Greene felt over the loss of Drake and provides for the reader a mere glimpse of their tragic and unabiding friendship.

Regarding “A Poet’s Epistle,” the poem seems to have made its public debut in volume 6 of the American Monthly Magazine, preceded by the following statement, “Not the least attractive pieces in this volume are those which record the intercourse of this ‘Castor and Pollux of Quizzers,’ as they were dubbed in those days when Croaker & Co. kept the town continually upon a broad grin. The ease, humour, and occasional flashes of true poetry which characterise the following epistle to Mr. Halleck, remind us of some of the happiest sallies of the Croakers…” (74). Wilson’s Life and Letters of Fitz-Greene Halleck provides even more context for the poem, as he explains, “In the spring of 1818, Dr. and Mrs. Drake, with DeKay, visited Europe….During their foreign tour, Halleck received the following poetical epistles, written by his friend Joseph Rodman Drake. The one dated May first is certainly remarkable as being the production of an American who had not been ten days in Scotland” (197-198).

Although both Wilson and the American Monthly Magazine provide slightly differing transcriptions of the poem, the one I have transcribed is borrowed from The New-York Book of Poetry, edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman, pp. 37-39.

A Poet’s Epistle.
[Written in Scotland to Fitz-Greene Halleck, Esq.]
By J. R. Drake.

Weel, Fitz, I’m here; the mair’s the pity,
I’ll wad ye curse the vera city
From which I write a braid Scots ditty
Afore I learn it;
But gif ye canna mak it suit ye,
Ye ken ye’ll burn it.

My grunzie’s got a twist until it
Thae damn’d Scotch aighs sae stuff and fill it
I doubt, wi’ a’ my doctor skill, it
‘ll keep the gait,
Not e’en my pen can scratch a billet
And write it straight.

Ye’re aiblins thinking to forgather
Wi’ a hale sheet, of muir and heather
O’ burns, and braes, and sic like blether,
To you a feast;
But stop! ye will not light on either
This time at least.

Noo stir your bries a wee and ferlie,
Then drap your lip and glower surly;
Troth! gif ye do, I’ll tell ye fairly,
Ye’ll no be right;
We’ve made our jaunt a bit too early
For sic a sight.

What it may be when summer deeds
Muir shaw and brae, wi’ bonnie weeds
Sprinkling the gowan on the meads
And broomy knowes,
I dinna ken; but now the meads
Scarce keep the cows.

For trees, puir Scotia’s sadly scanted,
A few bit pines and larches planted,
And thae, wee, knurlie, blastic, stuntit
As e’er thou sawest;
Row but a sma’ turf fence anent it,
Hech! there’s a forest.

For streams, ye’ll find a puny puddle
That would na float a shull bairn’s coble,
A cripple stool might near hand hobble
Dry-baughted ever;
Some whinstone crags to mak’ it bubble,
And there’s a river.

And then their cauld and reekie skies,
They luke ower dull to Yankee eyes;
The sun ye’d ken na if he’s rise
Amaist the day;
Just a noon blink that hardly dries
The dewy brae.

Yet leeze auld Scotland on her women,
Ilk sonzie lass and noble yeoman,
For luver’s heart or blade of foeman
O’er baith victorious;
E’en common sense, that plant uncommon,
Grows bright and glorious.

Fecks but my pen has skelp’d alang,
I’ve whistled out an unco sang
‘Bout folk I ha’ na been amang
Twa days as yet;
But, faith, the farther that I gang
The mair ye’ll get.

Sae sharpen up your lugs, for soon
I’ll tread the hazelly braes o’ Doon,
See Mungo’s well, and set my shoon
Where i’ the dark
Bauld Tammie keek’d, the drunken loon,
At cutty sark.

And I shall tread the hallowed bourne
Where Wallace blew his bugle-horn
O’er Edward’s banner, stained and torn.
What Yankee bluid
But feels its free pulse leap and burn
Where Wallace stood!

But pouk my pen! I find I’m droppin
My braw Scots style to English loppin;
I fear amaist that ye’ll be hoppin
I’d quit it quite:
If so, I e’en must think o’ stopping,
And sae, gude night.

*Note: Line one of stanza one states, “The mair’s the pity,” which may reference Sir Walter Scott’s The Black Dwarf, as the line is found verbatim here.

On Edward L. Carey, publisher and partner of Carey & Hart

The other day, I was curiously perusing the internet for photographic/painted/engraved evidence of publishers from the nineteenth-century—consider Ticknor and Fields and Baker and Scribner, two publishing houses well known for publishing such authors as Nathaniel Hawthorne (the former) and Charles Fenno Hoffman (latter). However, one other publishing house has stuck out to me as of late, being Carey & Hart; thus, I took to finding out what I could about these two men. However, while delving into my research, I stumbled across a portrait of Edward L. Carey, of Carey & Hart, which immediately piqued my curiosity about the gentleman.

Sully-Edward Carey (switch color image for black and white).jpg

After feeling inspired by this portrait to find more information about this mysterious publisher, I took to the internet and books to find what I could about Mr. Carey. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a significant amount of information to flesh out a biography-the biography he deserves-but I will do my best to relay everything I was able to find, here.

Edward Carey was born circa 1804-5 to Bridget Flahaven Carey and Philadelphian publisher Mathew Carey of “Carey & Lea.” Although there is not a lot of information regarding Carey’s childhood or young adulthood, it is surmised that he was built in preparation for the publishing scene, as, “When, on the retirement of Mr. Carey [Mathew], in 1824, the firm of Carey & Lea was established, provision was made for the admission of Edward L. Carey, a younger son, when he should attain his majority” (The Publisher’s Weekly, No. 678, January 24, 1885, pg. 70). In 1829, Carey obtained his portion of the publishing house and combined it with Abraham Hart to form the publishing partnership known as Carey & Hart. Thereafter, the company thrived well, publishing works by authors and editors familiar to readers today, including William Cullen Bryant, Rufus Wilmot Griswold (Edgar Allan Poe’s literary executor), and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Although Hart and Carey thrived well amongst the Philadelphia literary scene, the two were struck by immense tragedy with the decline in health and ultimate death of Carey in 1845. A Maine newspaper, the Maine Cultivator and Hallowell Gazette of June 28, 1845, circulated a Philadelphia report on the death of Carey. According to the original Philadelphian article, Carey passed on June 16 at 11:00AM. Carey was only forty years of age, but he left behind a legacy that Hart would continue carrying on for several years thereafter.

Few news articles give brief, yet intriguing insight into Carey’s life and mind, which will now be discussed. For example, before his death, we learn from the Maine Cultivator that Carey had been elected President of the Academy of Fine Arts, although this was turned down due to ill health. We also learn from the Washington Reporter of June 28, 1845, that Carey was not only a lover of the fine arts, as presumed from my prior statement, but that he also collected art pieces:

…his encouraging voice has been an inspiration to our countrymen by whose creative genius life has been given to the marble and the canvas in foreign schools, and through whom Alleghania has been made one of the chosen homes of Art. Powers sent a few weeks ago his masterpiece from Rome…How much he will be grieved to learn that the very hour in which “Proserpine” reached Philadelphia witnessed the departure of his friend and patron to another world!

Of Carey, this same article continues, “For three years confined to his house by a local disease, Mr. Carey had lived among his paintings and his sculptures, in correspondence with men of genius, and in the society of friends who loved him as a brother.” Of his mind, “…[it] was cast in the finest mould of beauty. The atmosphere of beauty was his element.” Of his character, he is spoken in high regard, as the author of the article states, “When I remember how very warmly all who knew him loved him, I cannot doubt that many hearts will beat more slowly, like our own, at this public calamity.”

Although these insights are brief, they speak volumes of Carey’s character. Such keywords as “genius,” “beauty,” and “love” seem to surround this vague gentleman, giving us enough information to declare the type of man Edward Carey was, being a friend, a “brother,” and one simply too beautiful and endearing for this world.

The Tragic Case of Henry William Herbert, America’s Unruly “Forester”-Part One

Frank Forester was not an uncommon name during the mid nineteenth-century. Forester, a dignified sportsman, known to his friends as being full of vitality and exuberance, published several accomplished volumes of literature, including manuals about Horsemanship and guides about the Warwick woodlands and field sports. Behind this steadily growing literary star, however, was the primary source of the Forester character-nay, pseudonym-an ambivert with a penchant for sorrow and cynicism—Henry William Herbert.

By the time Herbert’s Forester alter-ego began to emerge, Henry had faced several hardships, which had forced him, albeit slowly, into a sedentary life in New Jersey, eventually nearly being confined to the tranquil, morose solitude of his home, The Cedars. Life had been vastly different for the Englishman just two years before, especially more than a decade before; and although this turbulent figure had a temper to be unsurpassed, our sympathies lie with Henry—fate’s unscrupulous, demanding hold confined him to a prison of the mind and soul from which he never escaped.

Born in London, United Kingdom, April 7, 1807, young Henry found himself swathed and nurtured in the wealth of his aristocratic lineage, being the grandson of Henry Herbert, the 1st Earl of Carnarvon. According to Luke White, Jr., author of Henry William Herbert and the American Publishing Scene, Herbert, during his early years, “acquired that twin enthusiasm for books and the out-of-doors…” (5). Henry commenced with receiving a classical education, was enrolled at Caius college, Cambridge, and graduated with honors in 1830 (5). Upon graduation, he carried with him proper knowledge of the classical languages-which he would put to use while completing an eleven-year professorship as a teacher of Greek and Latin at the Reverend R. Townsend Huddart’s Classical Institute-as well as several debts due to gambling and spending lavishly, a habit that would follow him to the grave (5, 20). These overwhelming debts may have caused concern for his family, for between just 1830 and 1831 it is recorded that Henry left his home in London. It is also recorded, according to White, that “in answer to an inquiry, ‘the Herbert family, the late Earl of Carnarvon speaking through his secretary, said they were not aware of any Henry William Herbert in their family'” (6). This statement alone seems to lend credence and severity to the notion that Henry had brought shame to the family due to his erratic indulgences, and may have affected an implied estrangement from the family—let it be noted that Henry never returned to England, nor did he seem to remain close with his family, as far as lack of correspondences prove.

After his departure from London, he stayed briefly in France, either to take in the culture and language, as exaggeratedly evinced by Henry, or to (most likely) escape the debtors on his tail. France did not seem to provide either the security or needs that Henry needed however, and he set sail for America in 1831, carrying at his side money and letters of introduction for a gentleman in Canada. Thus began the beginning of Henry’s hopeful new life, and climb to literary fame—thus also began the downfall to his unforeseen and tragic demise.

Happy Birthday, Charles Fenno Hoffman!

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This marks the second birthday that I get to “spend” with this deceased literary figure (and thankfully, my boyfriend doesn’t mind Hoffy too much). So, in honor of Charlie’s birthday, I’m posting his second of two Birthday-related poems. You can visit my first blog post about him by going here.

Without further ado-

A Birthday Meditation

Another year! alas, how swift,
Alinda, do these years flit by,
Like shadows thrown by clouds that drift
In flakes along a wintry sky.
Another year! another leaf
Is turn’d within life’s volume brief,
And yet not one bright page appears
Of mine within that book of years.There are some moments when I feel
As if it should not yet be so;
As if the years that from me steal
Had not a right alike to go,
And lose themselves in Time’s dark sea,
Unbuoyed up by aught from me;
Aught that the future yet might claim
To rescue from their wreck a name.

But it was love that taught me rhyme,
And it was thou that taught me love;
And if I in this idle chime
Of words a useless sluggard prove,
It was thine eyes the habit nursed,
And in their light I learn’d it first,
It is thine eyes which, day by day,
Consume my time and heart away.

And often bitter thoughts arise
Of what I’ve lost in loving thee,
And in my breast my spirit dies,
The gloomy cloud around to see
Of baffled hopes and ruin’d powers
Of mind, and miserable hours —
Of self-upbraiding, and despair —
Of heart, too strong and fierce to bear.

“Why, what a peasant slave am I, ”
To bow my mind and bend my knee
To woman in idolatry,
Who takes no thought of mine or me.
O God! that I could breathe my life
On battle-plain in charging strife —
In one mad impulse pour my soul
Far beyond passion’s base control.

Thus do my jarring thoughts revolve
Their gather’d causes of offence,
Until I in my heart resolve
To dash thine angel image thence;
When some bright look, some accent kind,
Comes freshly in my heated mind,
And scares, like newly flushing day,
These brooding thoughts like owls away.

And then for hours and hours I muse
On things that might, yet will not be,
Till one by one my feelings lose
Their passionate intensity,
And steal away in visions soft,
Which on wild wing those feelings waft
Far, far beyond the drear domain
Of reason and her freezing reign.

And now again from their gay track
I call, as I despondent sit,
Once more these truant fancies back
Which round my brain so idly flit;
And some I treasure, some I blush
To own — and these I try to crush —
And some, too wild for reason’s rein,
I loose in idle rhyme again.

And even thus my moments fly,
And even thus my hours decay,
And even thus my years slip by,
My life itself is wiled away;
But distant still the mounting hope,
The burning wish with men to cope
In aught that minds of iron mould
May do or dare for fame or gold.

Another year! another year,
A LINDA , it shall not be so;
Both love and lays forswear I here,
As I’ve forsworn thee long ago.
That name, which thou wouldst never share,
Proudly shall fame emblazon where
On pumps and corners posters stick it,
The highest on the J ACKSON ticket.

Artemas Wyman Sawyer

I discovered this gem of a gentleman yesterday evening and simply felt the necessity to write about him.

I like to describe him as a cross between Rufus Griswold and Charles Fenno Hoffman. If you take a look at his photo below, you’ll see why:
Artemas_Wyman_Sawyer

Anyway, let’s get down to who this guy was and his significance.

According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, he was born in Westhaven, Vermont, March 4, 1827 (924). He was the son of a Reverend, Reuben Sawyer, and Laura Wyman. He was educated at New London Academy and then Dartmouth College. He taught school in Windsor, Vermont for three years before attending a theological institute. According to this source, he decided on ministry as a career early on, most likely due to his being baptized when he was twelve. He was ordained a minister of the Baptist church in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1853.

Not only was he super successful at this point, but he continued on to be exceptionally successful. He became professor of classics at Acadia College in Wolfville, in 1855, which he held for five years. During this time, in 1858, he married Maria E. Chase, and the couple had five children overtime, including Everett Wyman Sawyer. Artemas returned to Acadia in 1869 as Acadia’s president and held this position for twenty-seven years.

According to a memorial article found on this website, “Though stern in appearance, Dr. Sawyer was a Christian scholar and gentleman, and in the classroom ‘a prince of teachers,’ clear in his presentation and with stimulating thoughts in his classes. He stressed the importance of Christian living. The period of Dr. Sawyer’s presidency was one of great change within university structures and curriculums. He endorsed the inclusion of science, history, languages and a system of electives. Female students were first admitted to degree courses in 1884. In 1891 Acadia College became Acadia University, and in the following year introduced a course to lead to a Bachelor of Theology.”

Basically, this guy did a lot of good for the school system. He opened doors, broke the traditional system, although reluctantly at first, and even promoted health and well-being with the opening of a gymnasium in 1890. Nice! However, in regard to the bachelor in theology, “During Sawyer’s presidency theology received very little attention because Maritime Baptists seemed unwilling to commit the funds necessary to establish a program” (source).

In 1896, Sawyer asked to be replaced, apparently, but remained professor of psychology and Christianity almost until his death in 1907. Over all, his life did not go unnoticed and he was a significant part in shaping modern Acadia University.

“He brought stability, leadership, learning, and tact to the position…” (source).

“He was described as a ‘ripe scholar, a profound thinker and a wise administrator who made Acadia richer through a devoted attention to her interests” (source).

Here you can find an example of his handwriting (source).

Here you can find one of his written works.

Here you can find another photo of the guy.

Happy Birthday, Charles Fenno Hoffman!

Today is the Birthday of one of my favorite nineteenth century writers, Charles Fenno Hoffman.

Charles_Fenno_Hoffman

In honor of his Birthday today, I thought I’d add a quick blurb about him before sharing a couple of his poems.

Born in New York, February 7, 1806, he grew up in a “socially and politically prominent” household with parents Joseph Ogden and Maria Fenno Hoffman (Barnes 17).

At eighteen, he had nearly completed studies at Columbia College and began studying law. At twenty-one, he was admitted to the bar. He abandoned law for writing, however, and wrote anonymously for the New York American (456). In 1835, he published his first book, A Winter in the West, a two-part book documenting his travels from New York to St. Louis. This was significant as it was one of the most complete works documenting travels this way, especially as far as St. Louis, Missouri. His second work, Wild Scenes in the Forest and Prairie, was published in 1837, which was followed by his most notable novel, Greyslaer, in 1840 (457). Hoffman was the founder of the Knickerbocker magazine, edited for the New York Mirror, and in 1843 published The Vigil of Faith, a book of poetry (457).

In 1849, he “went insane,” which was an oh-so very nice way of saying he was manic depressive. He was admitted permanently to the Harrisburg State Hospital in Pennsylvania, where he remained until his death on June 7, 1884.

Despite his condition, Hoffman was known to many friends for being genial and good-natured. According to an account by William Keese, he is described as follows:

He was a general favorite in society, and his wit, bright intelligence, and genial manners, made his companionship very attractive. He was loved by the young, for he sympathized with them in their sports and enthusiasms, and from his knowledge of nature and his own adventurous experience drew the stories that take children captive. He was a gallant and noble gentleman, and a wide circle of friends mourned the affliction that befell him (Lamb 152).

He was perseverant, compassionate, honorable, and loyal. He was close to the anthologist and Edgar Allan Poe’s defamer, Rufus Griswold, and was even deeply in love at one point in his life. His poetry documents the turmoils of love and rejection, the beauty of nature and afflictions of growing up. In one poem, which I am going to post below, written on his 25th Birthday, Hoffman recollects his life up until that point and bemoans himself for his lack of accomplishments:

Birthday Thoughts
by Charles Fenno Hoffman

At twenty-five — at twenty-five,
The heart should not be cold;
It still is young in deeds to strive,
Though half life’s tale be told;
And Fame should keep its youth alive,
If Love would make it old.

But mine is like that plant which grew
And wither’d in a night,
Which from the skies of midnight drew
Its ripening and its blight —
Matured in Heaven’s tears of dew,
And faded ere her light.

Its hues, in sorrow’s darkness born,
In tears were foster’d first;
Its powers, from passion’s frenzy drawn,
In passion’s gloom were nurs’d —
And perishing ere manhood’s dawn,
Did prematurely burst.

Yet all I’ve learnt from hours rife
With painful brooding here
Is that, amid this mortal strife,
The lapse of every year
But takes away a hope from life,
And adds to death a fear.

(Source.)

Was this man truly unaccomplished? I do not think so. He was strong-willed, intelligent, and is remembered by any and all who happen to stumble upon his writings. (So, basically, I pretty much love this guy, so I’m pretty biased with most of what was said in this post. Whoops.)

Sweet Caroline

CarolineSearlesGriswold
Caroline F. Griswold, née Searles, was the quiet, humble wife of Reverend Rufus Wilmot Griswold. The daughter of sea captain Edward Searles and, then, Eliabeth Searles, the family was a wealthy family from Long Island. The family prospered due to their father’s business as a ship owner, sailing to ports and bringing rich cargoes back to his warehouses. It is said he “died of a broken spirit,” and his death resulted in the family moving to New York. Her mother was able to support her daughter Caroline, and son Randolph Searles, from proceeds of a local boardinghouse (Hatvary, Bayless 15). After the death of her first husband, Elizabeth remarried John Angell, who also passed, however she kept the last name Angell and thus became Elizabeth Angell (Bayless 15).

Not a lot is known about Caroline’s childhood and teenage years, however we do know she was described as a “quiet, devoted girl,” who, on one fateful March evening, caught the heart of Rufus Griswold. Griswold and Marcus Butler, a fellow employee of his at Harpers, were attempting to escape a downpour when they found themselves in the home of Mrs. Angell at 51 ½ Clinton Street, where Butler was well known. Griswold was introduced to Randolph Searles (then about 26) and the nineteen-year-old Caroline. “This beautiful girl, with her dark, shy eyes and her glossy auburn hair, immediately became the center of Griswold’s world; and he learned later that from the moment she saw him her heart was his” (Bayless 15).

Upon their first meeting, a love story began to develop between the two, and Griswold frequently visited the Searles home. “The self-styled hermit soon abandoned his somber robe and donned the habit of a gay, entertaining man of the world, whose colorful tales of his adventures enlivened the household” (Bayless 16). He even performed “Zip Coon” for the family, accompanied with a dance whilst singing. (You can listen to this song here.)

Caroline would not see Griswold once more, after his leave of New York, until around 1836, where he left his paper, The Olean Advocate, to return to Caroline, who he had not forgotten nor had stopped thinking about.

He confessed his love to her, finding she loved him from their first meeting, and the couple wedded March 20(also stated elsewhere as being on the 19th), 1837. “…Griswold, romanticizing himself into the rôle of tragic outcast rescued from his exile by a good angel, was happier than he had ever been in his life” (Passages, Bayless 16). After their wedding, the couple moved in with her family at 51 ½ Clinton Street. Rufus adored her with all of his being, and “…as his practical, sensible wife, she furnished the wheel which for five years was to stabilize his life” (16, 21). At the end of that year, he was licensed to preach, and it is said Griswold’s literary interests superseded his religious interests (Hatvary). Perhaps Caroline motivated, influenced, or inspired him to become a reverend?

By 1837, Caroline was expecting their first child, and was left in the care of her mother while Griswold was off doing business in Vergennes, Vermont. February 12, 1838, their first daughter, Emily Elizabeth, was born. Caroline, three months later, joined her husband in Vergennes. They arrived to a rented, incomplete brick house, and were transferred to the village inn temporarily. Caroline only wanted to live comfortably in her own home and take care of the family income, rather than associate with the overwhelming fashionable citizens also boarding at the inn. Rufus fit in with this scene, however Caroline did not, nor did she seem to enjoy it (Bayless 25). Although pleased with her husband’s success there, she did “have to exert herself a little too much to play the lady.” Caroline was practical, whereas Rufus was impulsive. She loved her husband and supported him, regardless, and was a proud wife. The family moved into their home a week later, where they settled very well (Bayless 26).

In 1840, their second child, Caroline, was born, and by 1841, Rufus was commuting back and forth between Philadelphia and New York, where Caroline and the girls lived. “As often as possible Griswold went to New York to see them, for he loved his wife and children dearly and disliked being separated from them” (32, 37).

Griswold was described as being erratic, colorful, and pampered, and Caroline’s family seemed to accept him—nay, tolerate him. Caroline and Griswold never owned a house of their own for every time Griswold attempted to put money away to save for a home, he would take it back and purchase little gifts for Caroline, who was appreciative of them nevertheless (51). For example, he had an original manuscript of “The Spanish Student” by Longfellow bound and gifted to Caroline for her autograph collection (57).

Caroline was said to wait for Griswold late at night for his arrival back home, with a meal and often a song to sing while he ate. “Often when she left the room he would almost involuntarily give thanks to God for such a blessing” (52).  Despite Griswold’s commuting and rather flamboyant behavior, Caroline loved her husband all the same, and quite dearly at that.

He once again left his family, and not thinking it suitable for Caroline and the girls to tag along with him, he left them behind. A third child was expected that autumn as well, so the travel and readjusting to a new city would have strained Caroline. Thus the commuting recommenced (52).

Griswold rejoined his family numerous times throughout summer and early autumn, and their son was born November, 1842. On the sixth day of November, he returned to Philadelphia for work, and all seemed well.

Three days later, Rufus received news while dining at the Jones Hotel, that his wife and newborn son were dead.

Taken from

“Universalist Union, Volume 8, pg.16”

Grief stricken and completely and utterly distraught, Rufus fled to his wife on the night train to New York, and stayed by his wife’s coffin for thirty hours, adamantly refusing to leave her side. He kissed her cold lips and embraced her, as his two little children clung to him and cried for their mother (64).

That midnight, Griswold wrote to his friend Fields,

You knew her my friend—she was my good angel—she was the first to lead me from a cheerless, lonely life, to society…She was not only the best of wives, but the best of mothers. You have seen our dear children—she taught them as children are rarely taught, and when she went her way they were left by her at the feet of Christ, at the very gate of heaven…They will bury her then [11:00 that day]—bury my dear Caroline and my child from my sight!…then I must set about tearing up the foundations of my home. Alas for me, I shall never more have a home to fly to in my sorrows—never more a comforter in my afflictions—never more a partner to share in all my woes or to be a source and author of all my pleasures…May God forever keep you from all such sorrow—farewell (65).

The funeral was held November 11, and the procession was moved to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. According to Bayless, “When the body was placed in the tomb, Griswold uttered a shriek, fell upon the coffin, and burst into agonized weeping” (65). Those standing by, including Hamilton Randolph Searles and his wife, gently urged him to leave the tomb. After seeing they could not ease the reverend’s throbbing heart, they left him to make peace with Caroline’s death. Captain Waring, Caroline’s uncle, finally had to pry Rufus from her grave, stating, “In Heaven’s name, Rufus, have done with this nonsense and come along home with me,” to which Rufus obliged and followed (65).

The night after Caroline’s death, Rufus wrote a poem, “Five Days,” to release more grievous feelings, which was printed anonymously in The New-York Tribune for November 16, 1842. You can view the poem, so graciously discovered and transcribed by a man whose name I shall protect, here.

Forty days after Caroline’s death, Griswold, still completely beside himself, escaped to her tomb once more. Below is the following account as stated by him:

I could not think that my dear wife was dead. I dreamed night after night of our reunion. In a fit of madness I went to New York. The vault where she is sleeping is nine miles from the city. I went to it: the sexton unclosed it: and I went down alone into that silent chamber. I kneeled by her side and prayed, and then, with my own hand, unfastened the coffin lid, turned aside the drapery that hid her face, and saw the terrible changes made by Death and Time. I kissed for the last time her cold black forehead—I cut off locks of her beautiful hair, damp with the death dews, and sunk down in senseless agony beside the ruin of all that was dearest in the world. In the evening, a friend from the city, who had learned where I was gone, found me there, my face still resting on her own, and my body as lifeless and cold as that before me. In all this I know I have acted against reason; but as I look back upon it it seems that I have been influenced by some power too strong to be opposed. Through the terrible scenes of the week I have been wonderfully calm, and my strength has not failed me, though it is long sine I have slept. It is four o’clock in the morning—I am alone—in the house that while my angel was by my side was the scene of happiness too great to be surpassed even in heaven. I go forth today a changed man. I realize at length that she is dead. I turn my gaze from the past to the future (67).

Weeks, months, and years passed with Caroline still remaining an aching memory in his heart. He questioned God, he blamed God, and his faith was ultimately shaken after her death. How could a just God take his angel away from him? He believed it was the result of God’s punishment, but despite how Griswold yearned to end this suffering, he knew he must continue on, if even only for his two girls (then three and five). Never again would he feel the same compassion from his darling, however, never again the same love and tenderness from a woman, his angel sent from God.
The world lost a mother, a devoted child of the Lord, and a faithful, adoring wife. For Griswold, his world had fallen completely apart, may have changed for the worse, and ultimately for him, and the rest of society who knew her well, “It was one thing to theorize and theologize; it was another to live without Caroline” (67).

Happy Birthday, Thomas Lovell Beddoes!

tlb_portrait_branwhite2This strange, eccentric, dark poet, dramatist and physician of the nineteenth century was quite the odd fellow of his day. Beddoes, born July 20, 1803,* at Rodney Place, Clifton, was born to parents Anna and Thomas Beddoes (show below). Thomas Beddoes, who passed when Lovell Beddoes was only five years old, was a prestigious physician, and his mother was related to acclaimed novelist, Maria Edgeworth.

thomas_beddoes anna_beddoes

Beddoes’ earliest writing, written at just fourteen or fifteen years old, was “Cynthio and Bugboo,” written somewhere between 1817-1819. His next big piece, written in 1819, was the “Bride’s Tragedy,” which is one of his more famous and known works today. He was known to be mischievous in school, but was greatly interested in Elizabethan drama and continued to write into college. Attending Oxford, just his freshman year he released a pamphlet called the “Improvisatore,” however he made great attempts, later on in college, to rid of all evidence of these pieces. In 1822, he published the “Bride’s Tragedy,” which then took onto great praise by critics, and he was deemed a budding writer.

According to the Phantom Wooer online, “In an unpublished letter in 1824 Procter describes Beddoes as ‘innocently gay, with a gibe always on his tongue, a mischievous eye, and locks curling like the hyacinth…'” Just a little later, his mother passed away, and Beddoes was unable to see her for she had passed before he reached her. This put a hold on his career, however he graduated in 1825 with a bachelor’s and then took off to working on new pieces including “Torrismond,” one of his other very well known works today. He also began his great work, “Death’s Jest-Book.”

In July 1836, he went back to college at the university of Göttingen, where he remained for four years studying physiology, surgery, and chemistry. During this time, he finished his great piece, in its earliest form, “Death’s Jest-Book,” went back to Oxford in 1829 to obtain his M.A. degree, and obtained a degree of doctor of medicine in 1832.

It is said, “He had, however, by the open expression of democratic opinions, made himself obnoxious to the government, and before the diploma was actually conferred upon him he was obliged to fly out of the Bavarian dominions, and to take refuge at Strassburg. In 1833 he visited Zurich, and was so much pleased with it that, when his political intrigues had again made it impossible for him to remain in Germany, he settled down at Zurich in June 1835. He brought with him a considerable reputation as a physiologist, for Blumenbach, in a testimonial which exists, calls him the best pupil he ever had; and he now assumed his degree of M.D. The surgeon Schoelieu proposed him to the university as a professor, and he was elected, although the syndic, for a political reason, refused to ratify the election. Beddoes, however, continued to reside in Zurich for several years, and amassed there a scientific library of 600 volumes” (Phantom Wooer Online).

During this time, he witnessed the assassination of the minister, Hegetschweiber, a close friend of his, and this sparked great political fire in his heart. In August of 1842, he was in England, and went back and forth between England and Zurich before settling in England once more in 1846. According to Phantom Wooer, “his friends found him very much changed, and most eccentric in manner. He complained of neuralgia, and shut himself up for six months in his bedroom, reading and smoking. In June 1847 he finally quitted England, and settled for twelve months at Frankfort in the house of an actor named Degen, practising a little as a physician. Here in the early part of 1848 his blood became poisoned from the virus of a dead body entering a slight wound in his hand. This was overcome, but seriously affected his health and spirits. His republican friends had deserted him, and he felt disgusted with life.”

It is said he fell off a horse and shattered his leg in 1848, was hospitalized, and due to gang-green, his leg was amputated. He seemed in good spirits, and talked freely and happily about literature to his friends, however he mysteriously passed at 10:00pm January 26, 1849. On his bed was found a note stating to give a man named Kelsall, a good acquaintance of his and biographer and anthologist of Beddoes’ works, his manuscripts and works, as well as the following statement: “I ought to have been among other things a good poet.” He was buried in the cemetery of the hospital in Basel, Switzerland.

(All information taken from this webpage.) I suggest you take a look around their website, as it is full of a lot of information about Beddoes not stated here.

You can find Beddoes’ works, specifically his dramatical pieces, here and here; his letters here; and his poetry here and here.

*According to another source, on Wikipedia: “Although older sources give 20 July 1803 as Beddoes’ birthdate, recent ones favor 30 June. Compare Moulton’s Library of Literary Criticism (1966) against The New Moulton’s Library of Literary Criticism (1988) and subsequent sources. Ewulp (talk) 05:20, 28 May 2011 (UTC)” However, Kelsall, Thomas Lovell Beddoes’ very good friend and biographer, stated in his memoir written for Beddoes that he was born July 20th. I believe he was born July 20th.

The Death of a Caroline Griswold

Rufus Griswold, that jerk I mentioned a few posts back, is beginning to grow on me, which if you know me well is completely bizarre. I used to completely detest the man. Any who. Through my dear friend (whose Twitter you can find here) I was given notice of a letter that Grizzle wrote to another gentleman after his wife, Caroline, had passed away, which discusses her death. It is absolutely heartbreaking and I felt deeply compelled to share. Never have I been so moved to tears by a letter–never have I been moved by any letter, really. Anyway, here you go, I’ve posted a link to it below.

The saddest thing you will ever read. 

Rufus Griswold’s “Five Days”

I figured that, rather than writing a long post discussing this man now, I would share a snippet of information and poem and call it quits for the day.

For starters, Griswold was Edgar Poe’s rival and enemy–don’t worry, the feelings were mutual. In fact, Griswold went on to destroy Edgar’s reputation after Poe’s death, and said rumors stated in the infamous obituary written by Sir Griswold continue on to this day. I digress, as this isn’t about their feud.

Despite the fact that this gentleman was sometimes cruel, Griswold had redeeming qualities; specifically being that after his wife Caroline’s death, Rufus stayed faithfully by her casket as it was being delivered by train, and neither slept nor left her side for thirty hours. There was another occurrence, thirty days after her burial, in which he stayed by her side, once again weeping profusely for a second go of thirty hours. At this point, a friend had to seize the man and urge him away from her corpse.

Thus, with this meager bit of information above, written to provide some vague context, I present, below, a poem written by Griswold after Caroline’s death. I hope you all enjoy. It is long, however it is worth the read.

FIVE DAYS.

We parted as the day drew near its end.
The rose of health was on her beauteous cheeks.
Her quenchless love beamed sadly from her eyes,
And when I prayed that Heaven would preserve us,
She joined, with tears, as if some dreadful signal
Had gleamed upon her from another world.
“My love—my wife!” “Dear husband, may God bless you!”
And then we kissed each other fervently,
And I commended her to Him again
Who is the Friend of all who are in sorrow,
And promised quickly to come back to her.
A new embrace—oh God! how ardent was it!—
And then I tore myself from her dear arms,
With passionate kisses, and hot, streaming tears.
I looked back from the window of my carriage.
Her heavenly eyes were watching my departure,
With such unutterably deep affection
That when the winding street did hide her from me,
It seemed as if the stars were blotted out.
As if the holy angels veiled their faces,
As if God had withdrawn His high support.

The third day came, and I, afar from her,
Sat with my gay companions at the board.
The jest went round, the merry laugh rung out.
No thought of sorrow made a bright eye dim—
It was the end of human life to me;
My other days are but a lingering death.

The bell sounds quick—my name is in the hall—
A messenger is there to summon me
From festive scenes unto the charnel-house!
His errand is not spoken, nor do eyes
Import the dreadful sentence to my mind.
But the air changes, and my sight grows dim,
While some invisible being brands the tidings
Deep on my heart, Henceforth thou art alone!

As the dawn broke into her silent chamber,
Around her bed were gathered a few friends,
Waiting the moment of her soul’s departure.
She looked about her for one far away.
In her delirium she had cried for him,–
The partner of her young and happy years!
But now the seal of death was on her lips,
And she still sought him with her tender eyes,
Which shone with dazzling and supernal brightness.
What tongue can tell the agony she felt
When other forms approached her dying bed,
And he came not—the chosen of her soul!

The iron steeds that night flew swiftly onward.
The stars were veiled, the moon refused to shine,
A black eclipse was on the face of nature.
The outer and the inner world were darkened.
Before the midnight we had met again!
The living and the dead were locked together,
Not in the cruel Tuscan’s loathed embrace,
But with love stronger than Mezentius’ steel.

I knelt beside you all the long drear night.
I kissed with agony your marble brow.
And though your old companions turned away
Oh, dearest, from your cold and faded form,
Death could not make it terrible to me.
Although the blackness of too quick decay
Began to overspread your beauteous cheeks,
And your sweet lips were colorless and cold,
And the dull lustre of your straining eyes
Did fall like mildew on my anguished heart,
Could I forget that roses here had bloomed?
That these to mine had been so often pressed?
That these had beamed such tender love on me?
Oh, those mild eyes! their lids were still half-parted.
And you seem’d, dear one, striving to unclose them,
To give assurance by their gentle glances
That e’en in death I still was loved by you.

When my head rested on your icy temples
Their very coldness warmed my brain to phrenzy.
I called upon you, dearest, in my madness,
To break the fetters in which death had bound you,
To look into my eyes, to glad my ears
With the sweet melody of your dear voice,
Saying you loved me and forgave my errors.
I cried, oh heart, unto whose quick pulsations
I’d listened in so many a sorrowing hour
Until your turbulent motion brought me peace,
“Awake! beat on! the river of my tears
Again doth wet the drapery about thee!”
But cold, all cold, and silent as the statue
That has reclined o’er death a thousand years!

Then I would gaze on you, and round your coffin,
Oh, dear one, clasp my arms, in wretchedness,
And kiss you with hot lips, and cry to God
To let you come, in mercy, back to me.
And seeing tears upon your cheeks and eyes,
I deemed my prayer was heard, and laughed aloud,
And shouted, in my joy, my thanks to Heaven.
But when my reason was once more in action,
And I perceived those waters had but fallen
From the hot fountain struggling in my brain,–
Oh, then, in utterness of woe, I died,
And fell beside you in death’s helplessness.
To me came back the life invoked for you.
I had not drained the dregs of suffering
The dread compound of misery and life
Was so commingled in cup for for me.
I could not drink from one without the other,–
And He permits them not to pass from me.

You had no equal in your loving kindness
When you were with me in this cheerless world;
And can it be that your immortal spirit
Feels less of that exalted, deep affection,
That gave your voice on earth its seraph sweetness,
That made your eyes beam with celestial brightness,
The gentle twining of your arms around me
To seem like the embrace of holy angels,
Than while you lingered here on earth among us?
Oh, loved one! in your more exalted virtue
Is there such change made in your very nature
That you can feel no pity for your husband,
Left here alone to die, and not see death?
If a cold word in life did veil my feelings,
And I seemed harsh, or any way unkind,
You now can read my heart’s most secret pages,
And know my love was changeless as’t was fervent.
Have I not drank sufficiently of woe,
Has not my punishment been deep enough,
To win your pardon and your sympathy?
The true, who die in Christ, my faith has taught me
Become the ministers of God to us
Who linger with frail hearts and unchaste passions
In this dark valley of the shade of death.
To whom, Oh holy and immortal being,
Would you return more quickly than to me?
For two long nights have I my vigils kept,
Thinking the living and the dead might meet
Beside the form your mortal life made sacred;
Still praying God that you might visit me,
And you, to manifest your spirit’s presence,
And strained my glazed eyes to see your form
In the cold vacancy that was about me.
You saw my agony, yet would not heal it;
You knew my brain was turned to molten lava,
And would not lay your finger on my brow;
You who once lived but to fulfil my wishes,
And gave fruition ere my hopes were uttered,
Now heard my prayer for one brief word of pardon,
Knowing it would give peace unto my soul,
And yet were silent as the clay before me!

Then I went out to look upon the stars
In hopes to hear their ancient music waken
The holy harmonies that gave to man
Assurance of a more sublime existence,
Where pain and death and mourning could not come.
But they shone coldly on me from their places,
In the far ether, and were still as death.
So I came back, in hopeless agony, 
To cling again unto your senseless clay,
With prayers that as you would not come to me,
I might, without self-murder, fly to thee.

It was the evening of a day in spring
When first I met her in her quiet home;
Within the street were raging rain and wind,
And the kind shelter that I found beside her,
By some mysterious agency expanded
Over my life and soul, which in the world
Had known no haven from its strifes and storms.
A year passed on, and as the early flowers
Were budding in their beauty, we were wedded.
Strange was the history of our love till then—
I let it linger with her in the tomb,
Where, in my life-time, I am chained to death.
Five winters and six summers have gone by,
Made all one summer by her love and virtue,
And when once more the chill November blasts
Shriek in the skies, God takes her to himself.

I heard the night with solemn pace depart—
A day of gloom, with withered garlands crowned,
Tread on her garments as she moved away.
I gather’d a few autumn flowers for her,
Flowers she had reared with gentlest hand for me,
And placed the parting gift upon her bier.
Her scarce-closed eye still seemed to look at me,
Thanking me kindly for the recollection;
But now no tears gushed out to answer her,
The fountain was dried up, at length, for Hope—
The false wild hope she would come back to me—
Stole in the darkness from my side, and left
But utter hopelessness and desolation.

My children—my poor children!—knelt beside me,
I sever’d from her glossy auburn tresses,
For them and me, a frail memorial,
To wear upon our hearts as a rich treasure,
Until our own times come to leave the world.
They who had known her in her early years,
And kept their feelings fresh in after time,
And some who only knew her as the one
Who was the object of my earthly worship,
Approached to look a last and sad farewell.
Then all kneeled down and heard God’s minister
Rehearse the solemn service for the dead.
And then, oh, dearest, you were veiled forever
From those who loved you and from those you loved.
I gazed with desperate calmness on the scene,
Exhausted was the fountain of my tears.
My heart was crushed by its dread weight of woe.

Out of the city, in a quiet vault,
Where her dead mother had before her gone,
My wife and only son were laid together—
A son of prayers, who looked upon the world,
Raised for a moment to his lips the cup
Which held life’s bitter waters, sat it down,
And unto Heaven returned, pure as he came.
The drapery of death is now about them;
The strifes and tumults of this changing world
Cannot disturb the quiet of their rest.
My heart is with its idol in the coffin,
The darkness of her silent place of sleeping
Pervades for me all time and space herafter.

O God! oh God! I know that Thou art just.
That all Thy judgements are with mercy tempered.
That Thou afflictest not with willingness,
And dost design all sorrows for our good.
But I knew not Thy law in perfectness,
I deemed that she who was but loaned to me,
Was a full gift, and to be mine forever.
I never thought that my sweet guardian angel,
Was here but on a mission to save my soul.
“Thou Lord didst give, and Thou hast ta’en away!”
I strive to add the blessing to Thy name
And from my lips, indeed, the high words fall,
But oh, Thou knowest my human heart
Has not submitted to Thy chastening, Lord!
That I have yet failed in my weak endeavors
To bow in humbleness unto Thy will.
I do beseech Thee who wert man Thyself,
And felt the passions of our mortal nature,
Thou who hast tasted death and all our sorrows
To open for us the barred gates of Heaven,
To show me pity. I would fain deliver
Myself and all I have into Thy hand,
To be dealt with as seemeth good to Thee;
But, Lord, how can I meetly yield so much—
Far more than mine own mortal life to me—
Without the aid of Thy most gracious spirit!
Midnight, Nov. 11, 1842

(Poem taken from this source.)

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