The Materialistic Maiden

Where I sip coffee and judge everyone.

Category: 19th Century Historical Figures

On the Life of Thomas Buchanan Read, alongside his poem, “The Withering Leaves”

thomas_buchanan_read_age_28

Thomas Buchanan Read is one of my favorite 19th century personalities. A poet and artist, he’s best known today for Sheridan’s RideHowever, his poetic repertoire definitely expands beyond that of this often studied poem; and although virtually unknown otherwise, his life is worth exploring, if even briefly.

Born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on March 12, 1822, he grew up in a financially modest household. Unable to acquire formal education, according to The Knohl Collection online, he left home at the age of ten to remove himself to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he partook in various jobs that only benefited and catered to his growing artistic skill. He thus began painting and sculpting here, especially under the influence of Shobal Veil Clevenger, and with the aid of Nicholas Longworth (source). According to A Compendium of American Literature by Charles Dexter Cleveland, although starting as a sculptor, Read took to painting, which gained him success as an artist, and he removed to Boston, where he remained for five years in this profession (738).

Between the years 1841 and 1861, he wrote and painted prolifically, submitting to journals such as Graham’s Magazine and the Boston Courier, and moved back and forth between the United States and Europe, namely Italy, where he found beauty and conversation to inspire his profound mind (738). However, according to the History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, he was met with two majorly impactful blows, the first being the death of his first wife, Mary J. Pratt, and child, Lilian, due to a choleric epidemic while living in Florence in 1853; and the second being the outbreak of the Civil War, for which he volunteered under General Lew Wallace (Futhey, 707). Futhey states, “[Read’s] voice and pen, in patriotic addresses and poems, gave hearty encouragement to his countrymen in the great work of saving the national life. In this heroic struggle none surpassed Read in patriotic ardor….” (707). Following the Civil War, Read remarried to Harriet Dennison and moved to Italy in 1867 (The Knohl Collection). Four years later, he was critically injured by the overturning of his carriage, and he died that next year, on May 11, 1872, at the age of 50, just a few days after his arrival to New York. His death was due to complications of the carriage accident, and pneumonia. In the Poetical Works of T. Buchanan Read: New Revised Edition of 1894, it is stated in his memoir that “[he died] calmly on the evening of Saturday, May 11, in the arms of those who loved him best. ‘Your kisses are very sweet to me,’ were among his last words” (XX).*

Futhey imparts an effective passage describing Read’s character, stating the following:

The distinguishing characteristics of Read’s nature were purity of thought, refinement of feeling, gentleness of manner, generosity of disposition, geniality and unselfish devotion to others, and the possession of all those qualities of mind and character which attract and attach friends. Tenderness of feeling and delicacy in treatment were marked traits in all his work, whether with the pen or the pencil. Gifted with an extraordinary genius, Read was unlike many other men thus formed by nature. He relied for success not upon sudden, uncertain, and spasmodic impulses, but was a faithful, diligent, and conscientious worker by turns in the two distinct yet congenial fields of labor to which his talents were devoted, finding his only rest and recreation in the alternate use of his pen or pencil (707).

In the span of his life, Read saw 17, if not more, publications of his literary works, and was met with publicly celebrated reactions to both his literary and artistic pursuits. Some of his artistic works can be found between the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, in the Knohl Collection, and the Harvard University Art Museum, to name a few places.

In the spirit of my Autumnal poetry series, and after “painting” (pun intended) a “portrait” (pun intended once more) of this poet, I thus want to present a newfound favorite work by Read that I, regrettably, just stumbled across whilst finding works to share on this blog.

Without further ado—

The Withering Leaves
Thomas Buchanan Read

The summer is gone and the autumn is here,
And the flowers are strewing their earthly bier;
A dreary mist o’er the woodland swims,
While rattle the nuts from the windy limbs:
From bough to bough the squirrels run
At the noise of the hunter’s echoing gun,
And the partridge flies where my footstep heaves
The rustling drifts of the withering leaves.

The flocks pursue their southern flight—
Some all the day and some all night;
And up from the wooded marshes come
The sounds of the pheasant’s feathery drum.
On the highest bough the mourner crow
Sits in his funeral suit of woe:
All nature mourns—and my spirit grieves
At the noise of my feet in the withering leaves.

Oh! I sigh for the days that have passed away,
When my life like the year had its season of May;
When the world was all sunshine and beauty and truth,
And the dew bathed my feet in the valley of youth!
Then my heart felt its wings, and no bird of the sky
Sang over the flowers more joyous than I.
But Youth is a fable, and Beauty deceives;—
For my footsteps are loud in the withering leaves.

And I sigh for the time when the reapers at morn
Came down from the hill at the sound of the horn:
Or when dragging the rake, I followed them out
While they tossed the light sheaves with their laughter about;
Through the field, with boy-daring, barefooted I ran;
But the stubbles foreshadowed the path of the man.
Now the uplands of life lie all barren of sheaves—
While my footsteps are loud in the withering leaves!

*For a more in depth biographical read about T. B. R., consider The Poetical Works of T. Buchanan Read: New Revised Edition

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Verbose Advertisements of the 1800s—or, the Bane of my Existence

Whilst doing my research, I frequently find myself immersed in the newspapers and magazines of the nineteenth-century. These contain an abundance of information, stories—of course, you know what newspapers and magazines are, so you can only imagine the treasures to be found in old periodicals of the day! However, just as our newspapers and magazines are stuffed to the brim with irrelevant advertisements that obnoxiously reprimand us until we buy their products—how do they manage to manipulate us, I cannot begin to say—so did newspapers and periodicals of the 1800s shove this same treatment into their readers’ faces. Although these advertisements did not have the creative “advantage” that ours do today, as colored ink was quite pricey during those days, they still maintain the classic technique of bolded titles and letters, big enough to give the reader a sore eye for weeks, abound with tildes and miniature hands pointing to the actually important information we are supposed to take away from their overtly verbal notice (and this is not an exaggeration).

I feel passionately about the inconvenience called “advertising” in these old newspapers, especially; however, here is a gem from a book I have been reading recently. I do want to note that I have condensed the ad, as it is too long, redundant, and frankly headache inducing for me to want to transcribe the entire thing.

T. B. PETERSON’S
WHOLESALE AND RETAIL
Cheap Book, Magazine, Newspaper, Publishing
and Bookselling Establishment, is at
No. 102 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

T. B. PETERSON will be most happy to supply all orders for any books at all, no matter by whom published, in advance of all others, and at publishers’ lowest cash prices. He respectfully invites Country Merchants, Booksellers, Pedlars, Canvassers, Agents, the Trade, Strangers in the city, and the public generally, to call and examine his extensive collection of cheap and standard publications of all kinds, comprising a most magnificent collection of CHEAP BOOKS, MAGAZINES, NOVELS, STANDARD and POPULAR WORKS of all kinds, BIBLES, PRAYER BOOKS, ANNUALS, GIFT BOOKS, ILLUSTRATED WORKS, ALBUMS and JUVENILE WORKS of all kinds, GAMES of all kinds, to suit all ages, tastes, etc. which he is selling to his customers and the public at much lower prices than they can be purchased elsewhere. Being located at No. 102 CHESTNUT Street, the great thoroughfare of the city, and BUYING his stock outright in large quantities, and not selling on commission, he can and will sell them on such terms as will defy all competition. Call and examine our stock, you will find it to be the best, largest and cheapest in the city; and you will also be sure to find all the best, latest, popular, and cheapest works published in this country or elsewhere, for sale at the lowest prices” (The Deer Stalkers, Frank Forester.) I want to note that the publisher of this book is the very same gentleman whose advertisement I just partially scribed. Disgusting.

This particular advertisement especially stuck out to me, only because it reeks of redundancy, clichés, and desperation. The more I repeatedly read the advertisement, the harder my teeth clench. I seethe as I write this. This advertisement, with its despicable over-selling technique and overly-emphasised words, only makes me want to rip the page out and burn it. What is it that makes me despise things such as this so greatly? It drips with the “door-to-door salesman” technique. To those door-to-door salesmen, I say, No, Sir—and close the door on them.

In my next “Ann Trashes Random Advertisements of the 19th Century” post, I will focus on the loathed newspaper ads mentioned earlier on in this post. Until then, feel free to take a look at the gawkish Peterson, Mr. Advertisement Scum himself:

Theophilus_B._Peterson_001

 

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

After a month long hiatus of this series, I have decided to finally raise it from the dead and commence with the tragic tale of Henry William Herbert. Before we continue, please feel free to either acquaint or reacquaint yourself with the first part of this biographical tale.

Before his arrival in Canada, it is noteworthy that Herbert spent a couple of months in New York, where he became acquainted with the sporting crowd and was “admired [as being a] Byronic young Englishman for his horsemanship and for the cavalier boots and King Charles spurs that he affected” (White 20). White continues, “The earliest recorded incident of his life in the new world is a horse race in which he defeated a professional jockey” (20).

The United States seemed promising to Henry, despite any prejudiced sneers he may have received due to his British lineage. Author Luke White explains this in a thorough manner,

Into the hard, hostile environment of New York in the spring of 1831 stepped the twenty-four-year-old Henry William Herbert, a tall, muscular young man, fashionably dressed, who was a charming gentleman when he wanted to be, but an arrogant, overbearing brawler when opposed. He was aggressively proud of his aristocratic background, extremely sensitive to any criticism of himself or his country, and quick to take offense (19).

Ultimately, after two months in the States, he left to find prospects in Canada. Upon his arrival in Canada, Herbert took advantage of the warm summer climate to familiarize himself with the woodlands and wilderness of this new foreign country. Although it is surmised that he wanted to establish himself amongst the Canadians of the region, he ultimately left to return to the United States. He did not leave in vain, for David Judd, editor of Frank Forester: Life and Writings Volume 1, states, “Despite his short sojourn, the future sporting author gleaned much valuable information with regard to the game and field sports of British America,” information that would be pertinent in his future sport and nature writings (13).

His return to the United States fared seemingly well, for, although initially harboring ill feelings towards his new job prospect, he accepted a position in New York City as a Greek and Latin preceptor in the Reverend Townsend Huddart’s Classical Institute, a school established to “operate as a rival to the Grammar School of Columbia College” (14). Regardless of Herbert’s resentment towards his new position, it is said his students praised their professor and his elocutionary skills, especially when reading translations from various texts. Not only did Herbert inspire literature, language, and translation in the minds of his students, but his pupils would progressively follow in his steps, and he would form especial bonds with a few, namely Philip Hone Anthon.

Not only did this position favor Herbert in the way of allowing a passage to establish himself in New York and alongside what would be future peers, but it also placed him in contact with the head of Huddart’s English department, A. D. Patterson [sometimes spelled “Paterson,” which is how it will thus be spelled in these articles]. This connection was a pivotal point for Herbert in his literary and editorial career, for Paterson was “an elderly gentleman of superior education, whose popularity as a journalist commanded universal respect among the mercantile classes…” (14). While completing a total of eight years at Hudart’s, Henry was introduced by Paterson to the literary publishing world, where he found budding success in submitting theatrical criticisms to The Courier and Enquirer, a rival newspaper of The Herald in New York.

Although this will be discussed in my next post, it is worth noting ahead of time that the latter newspaper is of importance, for Henry would find both humiliation and an enemy in the editor of The Herald, James Gordon Bennett, a ruthless gentleman with great intolerance for anything that walked or breathed. Not only will my next post discuss how their rivalry, a shocking encounter, and public humiliation are connected between Herbert and Bennett, but we will emphasize how 1832 and 1833 proved to be both pivotal and slightly degrading years for Henry. Finally, I will discuss, in depth, the deep-rooted, respected partnership between Herbert and Paterson and their creation of the American Monthly Magazine in 1833.

Elizabeth Oaksmith’s “The Acorn”

Called “one of her most imaginative and faultless productions” by Caroline May in American Female Poets, “The Acorn” stands out as being one of Elizabeth Oaksmith’s* especially significant and enjoyable poems.

Oaksmith’s poem follows the birth, transition, and demise of an acorn—simple. However, what the reader gains from the poem is a rich, omniscient viewpoint of an acorn’s environment, travels, and growth, as well as mystical elements and commentary on religion, a theme that frequently recurs in her works (see “The Sinless Child”).

In the beginning of her poem, we see these mystical elements take hold as “Fay” creatures are introduced: “For the woodland Fays came sweeping past / In the pale autumnal ray,/” (Stanza II, lines 1-2). They are reincorporated throughout the poem, paired beside “spirits” and “sprites” (Stanza 4). The incorporation of these mystical elements are important, as they add ethereal flesh to the story of this acorn. The elements lend realism, and possibly credence, to the slightly relatable, anthropomorphic features of the acorn, allowing the reader to not only believe, but also draw qualities, and therefore morals and themes, from the acorn.

Of these morals and themes, the aforementioned “religious” inclusion is especially dominant and worth discussing. Several phrases immediately jump out, including “holy mystery” and “blessed fate,” which undoubtedly imply a presence and higher workings beyond that of earth. Not only do these keywords give us clues of a Godly/godly presence, but also the following lines imply a higher, unearthly presence, “His [a schoolboy’s] hand was stay’d; he knew not why: / ‘Twas a presence breathed around— / A pleading from the deep-blue sky, / And up from the teeming ground” (stanza 11). Stanza 12 ends this brief interaction with a Higher Being by exclaiming, “There’s a deeper thought on the schoolboy’s brow, / A new love at his heart, / And he ponders much, as with footsteps slow / He turns him to depart.” The unearthly presence is now given a pronoun, “He,” which genders the presence which “breathed around,” pleaded, and teemed. Also, because this omniscient presence knows our acorn’s backstory, as it tells the schoolboy in these two stanzas “of the care that had lavish’d been / In sunshine and in dew— / Of the many things that had wrought a screen / When peril around it grew. / It told of the oak that once had bow’d, / As feeble a thing to see;”, we may infer this is a higher presence that is in accordance with the acorn’s fate, which unravels throughout the story.

As the story unfolds, a final theme, “nature,” makes itself blatantly apparent and quite literally embodies the poem. However, what is worth noting is the stunning and carefully woven imagery that solidifies our hero’s tale. Both forest and sea imagery fill the poem and add atmosphere to the piece. Regarding sea imagery, there is a fascinating article that I had stumbled across while researching “The Acorn,” (of which there is not much to be found) which you can find here. Miss Russell-Christie’s observations are astute and especially relevant. Although, I will quote a stanza that especially resonated with me, strictly regarding the maritime theme:

Thou wert nobly rear’d, O heart of oak!
In the sound of the ocean roar,
Where the surging wave o’er the rough rock broke
And bellow’d along the shore—
And how wilt thou in the storm rejoice,
With the wind through spar and shroud,
To hear a sound like the forest voice,
When the blast was raging loud!

I cannot help but especially hear Oaksmith’s voice echo within the first four lines of this stanza a personal, nostalgic time in her life. Having been born and raised in North Yarmouth, Maine, in its own respects a town significantly close to the ocean, it comes as no surprise that Oaksmith would have experienced this mariner life and heard the “sound of the ocean roar,” or have seen the “surging wave o’er the rough rock [as it] broke.” And, while we’re on the topic of her personal, potentially autobiographical touches in the stanza (and poem in general) is it any wonder that the species of tree used in this poem is none other than the “oak” tree? I digress.

Forest imagery makes up nearly three-fourths of the poem, and we are blessed with Oaksmith’s descriptions of seasonal variations. For example, in stanza six, she states, “The spring-time came with its fresh, warm air, / And its gush of woodland song; / The dew came down, and the rain was there, / And the sunshine rested long;” In turn,

The autumn came, and it stood alone,
And bow’d as the wind pass’d by—
The wind that utter’d its dirge-like moan
In the old oak sere and dry;
And the hollow branches creak’d and sway’d
But they bent not to the blast,
For the stout oak tree, where centuries play’d
Was sturdy to the last (stanza nine).

Not only do these stanzas paint luscious scenes, but they also brilliantly drive the narrative of the story.**

Although regarded at the beginning of this article as being “imaginative and faultless,” writer and critic Edgar Allan Poe had the following to say about her poem:

“The Acorn” is perfect as regards its construction — although, to be sure, the design is so simple that it could scarcely be marred in its execution. The idea is the old one of detailing the progress of a plant from its germ to its maturity, with the uses and general vicissitudes to which it is subjected. In this case of the acorn the vicissitudes are well imagined, and the execution is more skilfully managed — is more definite, vigorous and pronounced, than in the longer poem. The chief of the minor objections is to the rhythm, which is imperfect, vacillating awkwardly between iambuses and anapæsts…(The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Volumes 5 & 6, 211-212).

Editor Rufus Griswold, an associate of Oaksmith’s, exclaimed, “Mrs. Smith’s most popular poem is ‘The Acorn,’ which, though inferior in high inspiration to ‘The Sinless Child,’ is by many preferred for its happy play of fancy and proper finish” (The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Volumes 5 & 6, 202).

In regard to Poe’s criticism, I cannot discredit his opinion as his is of the grammatical and poetically mechanic nature, of which I am not an expert (nor do I claim to be regarding any of my opinions in this post, for that matter). I disagree with Griswold’s opinion of the poem lacking in “high inspiration,” at least in comparison with “The Sinless Child,” however, which may be evinced from my ideas presented earlier on in this blog post. The poem clearly contains several “high” qualities, or deeper qualities than Griswold seems to perceive, although I wish he had expanded upon his opinion. If his opinion be just as is, I find myself disappointed by his inequitable statement. Also, to compare Oaksmith’s prose-poem “The Sinless Child” with “The Acorn” is an unfair judgemental call in and of itself, as the two are incomparable in length and subject.

All of this being said, “The Acorn” deserves far greater credit and remembrance than it is given today, particularly because of its deeply rooted themes.

For convenience and the sake of scrolling through my blog page, I have included only a preview of the poem below. The rest of the poem can be found at the link provided at the end of my preview.

“The Acorn”

AN acorn fell from an old oak tree,
And lay on the frosty ground—
“O, what shall the fate of the acorn be!”
Was whispered all around,
By low-toned voices, chiming sweet,
Like a floweret’s bell when swung—
And grasshopper steeds were gathering fleet,
And the beetl’s hoofs up-rung—

For the woodland Fays came sweeping past
In the pale autumnal ray,
Where the forest leaves were falling fast,
And the acorn quivering lay;
They came to tell what its fate should be,
Though life was unrevealed;
For life is holy mystery,
Where’er it is conceal’d.

They came with gifts that should life bestow:
The dew and the living air—
The bane that should work its deadly wo—
Was found with the Fairies there.
In the gray moss-cup was the mildew brought,
And the worm in the rose-leaf roll’d,
And many things with destruction fraught,
That its fate were quickly told.

But it needed not; for a blessed fate
Was the acorn’s doomed to be—
The spirits of earth should its birth-time wait,
And watch o’er its destiny.
To a little sprite was the task assigned
To bury the acorn deep,
Away from the frost and searching win,
When they through the forest sweep.

[You can read the rest of this poem here.]

*She is more commonly referred to as Elizabeth Oakes Smith.

**I was unsure as to how and where to incorporate this particular stanza in this post; however, because I enjoy this particular stanza greatly, here is an honorable mention from the poem,

The stout old oak—! ‘Twas a worthy tree,
And the builder marked it out;
And he smiled its angled limbs to see,
As he measured the trunk about.
Already to him was a gallant bark
Careering the rolling deep,
And in sunshine, calm, or tempest dark,
Her way she will proudly keep.

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“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 April 7, 1805 to Bridget Flahaven Carey and Philadelphia 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.)

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