Text: William M. Griswold, “[Section 04],” Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold, Cambridge, MA: W. M. Griswold, 1898, pp. 158-206


[page 158, continued:]

New York, Aug. 16, 1844.

My dear Sir:

. . . I wrote to Mr. Graham some time since mentioning to him that I had some poems by my brother — two pieces — which I should like to dispose of for his magazine. As you, I believe, still interest yourself somewhat in the affairs of his periodicals, will you, if you see him soon, remind him of the matter?

Yours truly,
W. C. Bryant.

The cause of Griswold’s inability to keep his place in Graham’s office is hinted in Greeley’s letter of 5 January. Ingram, in his “Poe,” makes a more specific statement, viz., that “R. W. Griswold was an employee of Mr. Graham, and, it is alleged, was dismissed for dishonesty.” One would suppose that such a discovery would have put an end to all relations between them, but it seems not to have done so, as Griswold continued to act, off and on, as assistant editor for several years. His portrait, as one of “Our Contributors,” (“Our Dishonest Employee” would have attracted more attention) appeared in the magazine for June 1845.


New York, Aug. 22nd, 1844.

My dear Griswold:

I am vexed with myself, that I have so long neglected to write you when I promised. My only apology is my extreme press of employment. [page 159:] I doubt whether at this time it is not too late to furnish any data respecting myself. If so, it is no matter, as far as I am concerned.

The data are simply as follows; Born among the mountains of Otsego Co.,N.-Y., in the town of Westford (about 12 miles from Cooperstown) Oct. 25th 1818, the fifth of nine children. Parents from New England. Father native of West Hartford.

Father a clergyman of the Congregational order. At the age of three years I was removed with my father’s family to Royalton, Niagara Co. Lived there nine years.

Principal early advantages during this period were an indifferent district school, a large library belonging to my father, an unbounded love of reading shared in common with the rest, and a disposition on my father’s part to indulge it to the utmost. By the age of twelve had read a large portion of English classical literature.

From Royalton my father removed to Elba, Genesee Co. After spending three years there in desultory reading, English studies and laboring on a farm, I went to New Haven, to prepare, under my oldest brother, a tutor in Yale College, now deceased, for my collegiate course. Entered Yale in 1835, at the age of 17. Graduated with next the highest honors in 1840, at the age of 21. During the next year kept a classical school at Hartford and wrote “Tecumseh.”

Yours very truly,
Geo. H. Colton.

[Mr. Colton died three years later at the age of twenty-nine.]


Boston, Sep. 18, 1844.

Dear Rufus:

The stupid hackman who drove us to the Cemetery at Fairmount so miscalculated his time that instead of getting us in at 12 as we anticipated and he promised, it was nearly 8. We called at your house but you was missing and we did not see you again. I regret this exceedingly as I had many things to say to you touching your plans of publication and other matters of general interest. I wanted to say many things which I cannot write; in short to suggest among others the propriety of checking your publishing ambition rather than urging the horses onward, etc. This I was prevented from doing by the two-legged sinner who kept us on the road so long.?

With regard to the “Christian Ballads” it will be for the interest of L. and B. to send them at once to us for Editors. I should prefer they [page 160:] would be sent from you to Mary, as she thinks you a tremendous clever fellow, preferring you, I think, to the literary tribe generally.

I am very busy just now with recent importations or I would write more touching what news I found on my arrival home but as I am surrounded with Invoices and new Books you will be less bored than I have it in my heart to do.

Let me hear from you often. I think you are very pleasantly situated, and wish I could have remained longer in my favorite quaker city, though “fore God” I think it has fallen off vilely since I saw it last. Regards to H. T. T. and all friends.

Yours always,
J. T. F[ields].


Avondale, Oct 20th, 1844.

My dear Sir:

. . . I might possibly be of some service to you in procuring for you some of the poetical remains of the late Francis Key, author of the Star-Spangled Banner. lam well acquainted with the family, and have frequently heard his sons say that the “old man” (as they called him) had written much better things than his renowned national song, and that he has left behind him a large number of poems, principally of a Devotional order. Now, my dear Sir, if you think these would be of any service to you, I have not the least doubt but that I might be instrumental in procuring them. . . Excuse haste and believe me ever Your sincere friend,

Thomas E. Van Bibber.


Oct. 24, 1844.

Dear Griswold:

. . . Mr. John Neal, who, according to the standing advertisement on the cover of his publication, has rare power of discovering talent and a most condescending liberality in fostering it when found, speaks of you in his last Jonathan as “a Mr. Griswold, we believe that is the man’s name.” I am really sorry for you, poor fellow I how do you get along without being either ‘discovered” or “fostered” by this Portland magnate? Yet you are not alone in your pitiable condition — the hapless author of Charles O’Malley was crushed last Saturday by the same piece of Maine’. Timber.

Yours ever,
C. F. Hoffman.

[page 161:]

111 Fulton St., N. Y., 28th Oct., 1844.

My dear Sir,

I have already said my ‘say’ of Barrett’s Poems in the Democratic Review for Oct. (where you will find I hare also made suitable acknowledgment to Graham’s Magazine), and Duyckinck has said his in the new [American] Whig Review. Aside from this, judging as in my own case, I am sure it would please the authoress better to have each Critique by an independent hand: and I shall take care to let her know the service you have done her when you write. . .

I see that Godey is disposed to give Mr. Graham a run for it in the Portrait Gallery! Every author in the country (If things go on at this rate) will have to set his face against these undertakings.

Yours Truly,
C[ornelius] M[athews].

[An interesting series of letters from Mrs. Browning to Mr. Mathews relative to the publication of her poems in this country, reviews, etc., was published in ‘The Collector,’ Nov. 1891-Mar. 1892.]


New York, Dec. 28, ‘44.

Your plan is a famous one, my dear Griswold. . . I certainly would balance the florid style of Bancroft with the directness of Sparks — nor would your book be complete without quotations from Gouverneur Morris, whom the men of his day thought a master of elegant writing. In making my selections, I would choose the passages which are most characteristic of the writer (which in some instances are not the best that might be culled), Timothy Flint’s description of Bed River, for instance, in his “Francis Berrien” is happily the most Flintish as well as the finest passage you could quote from him.

Irving’s Bracebridge Hall has a passage which is the very tip-toppery of his elegance.

In Frisbie’s review of Byron there is a passage of rare musical cadence. In Gouvemeur Morris you will find a blending of the epigrammatic style of Junius with much of the polished facility of the old French memoirs — and in John Randolph you have more than the biting sarcasm of Wilkes. . .

Ever yours truly,
C. F. H[offman].

[page 162:]

Cambridge, 7 Jan. 1846.

My dear Sir [W. H. Furness]:

I should be very glad to comply with your request in a more satisfactory manner than it is possible for me to do. My information is not sufficiently extensive, nor is my memory ready enough, to enable me, at least without a fortnight’s thought and examination, to make out even a very imperfect list of those writers whose claims may deserve consideration. Nor, while it is clear that some writers should be admitted into the work proposed, and others rejected, should I. find it easy to draw any tolerably definite line separating one class from the other. Wherever I might stop in the selection of writers, after proceeding beyond a very few of the most eminent, I should apprehend that some half-dozen would rise up before me, having claims so nearly equal to some half-dozen admitted, that it would be hard to say why the latter were taken and the former rejected. But without suggesting any further difficulties, I will show, at least, my desire to comply with any request of yours by throwing out some hints and bringing together some names just as they occur to me; though I am sure my recollection will be often at fault.

The oldest writer who might be thought of, so far as I happen to remember, is Cotton Mather, from whdm some striking or, perhaps, I should say, remarkable passages might be taken. If the reputation and merit of an author, supposing him to have no eloquence nor beauty of style, may be a reason for giving him a place, Dr. Chauncy should not be overlooked. There are eloquent passages, I am told, in the writings of Mayhew, with which I am not acquainted. James Otis of course would not be forgotten. How is it with Dickinson, the author of the Farmer’s Letters? What is to be done with the elder Adams? and his wife Mrs. Adams? John Quincy Adams, I presume, would not be omitted. There would be no question, I suppose, about Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Ames, Webster, or Clay. Dr. Belknap may deserve consideration, the historian of New Hampshire, and the author of the “Foresters” and other works. President Edwards, Dr. Dwight, Dr. Mason of New York, and for anything I know to the contrary. President Nott, must all be candidates for admission. I came near forgetting General Henry Lee. I wish I had some book at hand containing reading lessons or pieces for declamation to help my memory, but as I have not I will now mention without comment, and without order, a host of names just as they happen to present themselves. Dr. Channing, Buckminster, Greenwood, Thacher, Dr. Ware the elder. Dr. [page 163:] H. Ware, I think Dr. John Ware, WilHam Ware, Dr. Kirkland, Mr. Frisbie, Noah Worcester, Dr. and Mrs. Gihnan, Miss Sedgwick, Mrs. H. Lee, the two Abbots, whose books have been so popular, Edward Everett (how could I have left him to this place?) Alexander Ererett, Irving, Cooper, Brockden Brown, Hoffmnan, Kennedy, and other novelists whose merits I am not acquainted with, — Verplanck, Paulding, our minister Mr. Wheaton, perhaps DeWitt Clinton, Mr. Bowen, the present editor of the K. A. Review, Mr. Prescott, Mr. Ticknor, Mr. fiillard, fi. B. Cleveland, Burnap Upham, the two Peabodys (brothers), Legaré, Wirt, Sparks, Palfrey, Dr. Walker, Professor Channing, Judge Story, Washington Allston, the two Danas, father and son, Dr. Freeman, Rev. Mr. Coleman, Dr. Lathrop of West Springfield, — Bancroft, Brownson, Emerson, Willis.

On running over the preceding list I perceive at once many names that should be, or that may be, added, and when I have added these, I presume many will still be omitted — Longfellow, Hawthorne, Mrs. Kirkland (Mrs. Clavers), Timothy Flint, Dr. Dewey, President Quincy, Commander Mackenzie, Bev. B. B. Hall (author of the “New Purchase”), Schoolcraft, Stephens (the traveller), Warren Burton (author of the “District School as it Was”) Dr. and Mrs. Follen, Audubon, Wilson the Ornithologist and Nuttall, if they are to be considered as Americans, Bobert Walsh, Dennie, the editor of the Portfolio, William Dunlap, William Tudor, Mrs. Childs, — to go back again to older times, Dr. Bush, Rev. Mr. Putnam, the last year’s Phi Beta Kappa orator at Cambridge, Mrs. Theodore Sedgwick (author of Alida, etc.)

But the contracting space of my paper admonishes me to stop. I can hardly hope that my suggestions will be of any further service than to prove my unwillingness to neglect any request of yours.

Very truly, my dear Sir, yours,
Andrews Norton.


New York, Jan. 15, 1846.

Friend Griswold:

I send you on the other leaf a notice of Miss Fuller’s book — meagre and vague enough, as a notice in twenty lines could hardly fail to be. I want this, as much better as you can make it, in Graham for March, and no mistake. Don’t disappoint me.

Horace Greeley.

P. S. — Margaret’s book is going to sell, I tell you it has the real stuff in it. . . [page 164:]


Knickerbocker Office, [11 Feb. 1845.]

My dear Griswold:

I write this at our friend Clark’s elbow — who (Clark, not the elbow) tells me that eight years ago, just about, his brother, then editing the Philadelphia Gazette, wrote in that paper a column about N. P. Willis — scoring him savagely and putting in some facts which would be of use to me. I was, and still am, loath to trouble yon with the matter, but I made an unsuccessful attempt through another person to have it looked up: and I now must trouble you. Please look it up — either yourself or send somebody (to the Phil. Library, whore is a full file,) — have it copied and leave it with Mr. Hart at the U. S. Gazette office to be sent to me. You of course have seen my squabble with Willis. If you’ll do this, I’ll meet any expense you may incur, and will repay the obligation in any way you please.

Yours, as ever,
H. J. Raymond.

The Rev. B. T. Onderdonk, Bishop of New- York, was sentenced by the court of bishops to suspension from his office on 3 Jan. 1845, — the same sentence which had recently been imposed on the bishop of Pennsylvania. Allowing for the difference in newspapers then and later, the case attracted even greater attention than that in which H: Ward Beecher was concerned thirty years afterward. A few months before this, Willis (with Morris as business manager), had started The Daily Mirror, which claimed, apparently with justice, to treat the events of the day from the point of view of the well-to-do and educated class. Willis said he at first decided to ignore the Onderdonk affair, but having expressed the opinion that the verdict was unjust, because the offense was unproved, he was forced to establish the correctness of this view by an examination of the evidence for the prosecution. From this he argued that their witnesses were not worthy of belief, a position which at once drew the fire of Raymond. Those who think that personal journalism is something new may read with interest the [page 165:] following extracts from ‘The Mirror’ (weekly edition) of 15 Feb. 1845: —

A paper that, of all American journals, has the most consideration (measured by the country’s standard of representing more wealth than any other) — the New York Courier and Enquirer — came out, unprovoked and unexpectedly, a few days since, with a paragraph containing two vile insinuations against my private character — no less than libertinism, and most discreditable motives for the boldness with which I defended the Bishop. . . A second most injurious attack immediately appeared in the Courier, and a country paper was brought in the same day, with a still more low-bred assault upon me to the same purport, — both certified to be from the pen of a diminutive and busy little reporter [Raymond was 25, Willis 39] who saves the cleaner side of his pen for the Courier, and, with the other, writes “spicy scandal” for a country paper. . . The simple taking off of the little man’s borrowed brass . . . resulted in his giving immediate proof of his ungentleman-like breeding and quality. I am saved all further trouble as to an appreciation of the Courier’s Raymond. . . But . . . this little viper, besides what is born under his tongue, has started up, from the grass, as he crept toward me, the hidden slanders that were brooding unseen in the nests of prolific envy. Offensive as such foul birds are, it is as well to have them served up and named in the daylight for recognition. . . My defense of Bishop Onderdonk is next called a “public display of profligacy, written after dinner, when not in a condition from which prudence is expected. . . This long libel winds up with a tirade against the Mirror, which Raymond calls “the pet of pimps, and himself (myself) the coward leader of all the profligacy that seeks a higher resting-place than the gutter.” It is extraordinary that with “intemperance” and “libertinism,” health shows as freshly on my cheek as it did at sixteen I extraordinary that I am one of the happiest men on earth in my well-known and much visited home, that a more industrious editor does not exist in this hardworking land, and that I can show invitations to pulpits all over the country to lecture, to firesides by hundreds that I have no time to visit. . . Once for all I declare myself a good citizen, a good husband and father, and a moral and capable editor. . .

After this one concludes that only shrinking modesty prevented Willis from getting heavy damages by means of a libel suit. [page 166:]

On the 17th May, Raymond gave Griswold his view of the sqaabble: —

I believe I have never yet thanked you for your labor in looking for that article concerning Willis for which I wrote. I procured it afterwards through another channel, but I was none the less oblige to you. You were quite right in supposing that my quarrel with W, was not at all to my taste. I would have given a good deal to avoid it — but after the manner in which he treated me, what could I do? His position, compared with mine, gave him power to injure me very much: — and it was not until I saw he was determined to use it, without stint or remorse, that I made up my mind to turn the tables and put him on the defensive. This, I believe, I did effectually enough: — and yet I am heartily sorry for the whole affair, and would give a good deal even now to have it reconciled, could it be done with propriety. But I think W. treated me very badly, and I do not think he had a right to expect any thing else than I gave him. From remarks I know he made, in private, I am sure he counted on abusing me with impunity — first because I was not able to repel his attack, and next because Webb would not let me if I wished. This certainly added meanness to his malice.


Tribune Office, Sunday, Feb. 16, 1845.

R. W. Griswold, Old Fellow,

. . . Margaret [Fuller]’s book is out. I tell you it will make its mark. It is not elegantly written, but every line talks.

Horace Greeley.


New York, Feb. 19, 1846.

Dear Griswold:

. . . You asked me when I last saw you for my opinion of some of Fay’s writings. You will find it in the American Monthly in a review of “Norman Leslie” and “Clinton Bradshaw,” which review, by the way, contains the passage upon the resources of American Romance which I spoke to you about. Have you seen that new work by Vivian, “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,”? ‘Tis a good deal of a book, written in a style of delightful simplicity, and condensing, digesting, and arranging most admirably the best received knowledge of the day on the subject so as to secure a well defined system from it.

Miss Fuller’s “Woman in the Nineteenth Century” begins to make some talk. There’s a good story afloat about her and your friend Ralph [page 167:] Waldo. They were at the theatre looking at Fanny Elsler for the first time — “Margaret, that is Poetry!” observed he. “No, Ralph, that is Religion,” rejoined his friend with mingled enthusiasm and rebuke.

We have a live Yankee here now by the name of Hudson who makes some stir among the Shakesperians. There must be something in the fellow — a great deal, — he is so strongly praised and so indignantly damned by different parties. His reputation, like his style, is so excessively antithetical that there must be at least two strong points about him. I shall try not to Bliss his next night.

Onderdonkery seems gradually to become quiescent notwithstanding the new pamphlets which continue the row among a few. But there is no truth in the report that the Bishop has gone as a Moravian Missionary to the Pawknees. Do let me hear from you soon.

Truly yours,
C. F. H[offman].


Portland, Feb. 27, 1845.

Dear Sir:

Your plan I saw mentioned in the papers, and having had a similar thought in my head years ago, I was prepared to understand the difficulties you would have to encounter. My plan was to take up one writer of the country, worth meeting, and give a just notice of what he was good for, with samples. Yours, I take it for granted, Is a better and safer plan. You will make no enemies and I no friend. I should stir up ten thousand communities — the busiest and the noisiest of the land — with here and there a disciple or an imitator who wouldn’t care one single snap what became of me or my book, after he had been heard in my defence. In your Poets of America you were certainly not just to me — but then you were unjust to so many more, who could not bear it half so well, that I never gave the matter a second thought. Your injustice to me however was not so much in what yon did not do — of that I should never complain — as in what you did do. You adopted the second hand opinions of other people who had never read my poetry; and you praised or quoted, which amounts to pretty much the same thing, a parcel of stuff I had been ashamed of ever since it was written. The poetry I refer to was something about a soldier and his wife, on the shore of Lake Ontario — which had been borrowed by some half dozen people before to show what I was made of. The simpletons I That Birth of Poetry was worth a cartload of such trumpery — and so were the lines to Ambition. . . [page 168:]

As for you, now, if you have a hearty relish for poetry, sincere and generous and beautiful poetry, as distinguished from conventional poetry, classical rhythm, and all that, which between ourselves, I very much doubt, I tell you that you have no idea of what I have done (to say nothing of what I can do) in that way, than if you had never heard my name in your life.

But — you “admire my novels.” Not all of them, I hope — for if you do I must give you up. I can stomach a good deal of my own writing in that way; but really when I come to think of some that I have written, I feel the blood mount to my temples — and “go a rippling to my finger ends.” The only comfort I have is in the reflection that by doing it, I have learned to do better; and that I never should have been what I am now, had I not been what I was, when they were thrown off, like eruptions from a volcano in full blast; my notion being that we learn quite as much in this world by failure as by success.

I wish I could put you in the way of getting the volumes you want and at a reasonable price, but I cannot. They are all out of print, and I hope will remain so, at least, until I can meet with a publisher worth giving them to, and leisure for putting them into a new and better shape.

‘Brother Jonathan’ was never published here and the only copy I have is so disfigured by alterations, in trying to make the whole worthy of facts, that I am afraid to let any mortal see it. ‘Seventy-Six’ I hold to be the best by far, both as a story, and as a whole. Bating some errors and a great many extravagances, that I should be willing to see republished in its original shape. ‘Randolph’ contains some bold and generous writing, but I can call to mind nothing, now, which would suit you or your readers, except perhaps a criticism on Shakespeare and the poets of Great Britain. If you should extract that or any part of that, pray allow me to see the proof.

I dare not furnish you with a biography of myself. I never did such a thing but once in my life and that was in a frolic; and then I could not bear to let it go for another’s; and so I said, in so many words, this is what Mr. N. says of himself. I was writing for Blackwood and reviewing our whole prose literature from recollection, without having a single book to refer to. Wishing not to be known as the author, and having reviewed everybody else, I could not overlook myself without betraying the secret; and having once undertaken it, I durst not flinch or falter, but gave my opinion of my own writing just as I would of another’s, acknowledging however (that others might not be misled) where I had picked them up, namely from the author himself. You will find them in Blackwood about 1824-6 in [page 169:] a series of papers by me. In the New York Mirror about 1826 or 8 — a sketch appeared, by James Brooks of the Express, embodying a variety of personal facts, very few errors, so far as I can remember now, and some very good, because very natural, writing. There are some fifty more, I must refer you to — but you would only lose your time in consulting them. Write as you feel — write from your own judgment of me, without the least reference to others, but however unjust or severe you may be, in my own opinion, I will forgive you with all my heart, and like you all the better for it. . .

I thank you heartily for your kind invitation, and if I should pass through your city (which I vowed some twenty years ago, never to do if there was any way of getting round it! — no easy matter, I acknowledge, if getting round Philadelphia means getting round the Philadelphians) I shall make it a point to drop in upon you and take a peep at your library and your wife.

Yours with respect,
John Neal.


Portland, March 8, 1845.

My dear Sir,

I see plainly I shall have to lend you a hand. Your letter has satisfied me that we have long misunderstood each other.

If you get ‘Brother Jonathan’ — well: but for Heaven’s sake don’t follow the punctuation. That was one of my idiosyncrasies at the time — trying to carry out a system, at the sacrifice of many things worth more than the system itself. Should you fail to get a copy, you shall have mine. If you get one — I hardly know where to point you for an extract, not having looked into it, I verily believe, these ten years and being really afraid to do so — lest I should lose my patience, and peradventure not a little of my self-respect. Still, there is a description of Edell Cummin — a creature people have supposed I got from Goethe’s Mignonne; I hardly know why, for there is no earthly resemblance that I can see, and her character was painted long before I had ever read a line of Goethe or knew that he had ever coloured up such a character, or apparition rather, as Mignonne. So, too, perhaps you might take a fancy to a description of the breaking up of a river or a flooding of low lands in the first vol. I rather liked it if I remember. But after all, I do not know that, so far as Edell is concerned, you would not save yourself some breath and get just about as good a notion of all I was after in her character, by running your eye over the first volume of my last novel, written for the ‘Brother Jonathan’ paper, but never finished. It is called — [page 170:] may I be hanged if I can remember the name just now I — but I began it for Morris to help start the Mirror. I literally finished it in the B. J., — and the ‘Brother Jonathan’ with it. ‘Bath Elder! “that’s the name. I wrote it at a hand gallop, and was not a little astonished, the other day, at seeing a foreign extract from the story of Brother Jonathan which satisfied me that I had been stealing from myself — recovering the very dross of the mould, where the imagery of my youth was smelted.

There’s one pretty little fairy story — which your Mr. Charles Naylor is raving mad about, entitled ‘Goody Gracious,’ and which I think might be worth your attention. It appeared in the N. Y. Mirror six years ago, perhaps. I might mention several others — clear, simple, and straightforward, — one published in a sort of anti-slavery book called the Envoy, 1840, Pawtucket, R. I. which a slaveholder might read, I think with tears in his eyes, and a swelling of the heart — if he were so disposed; and another, which I am sure you would be pleased with, called Idiosyncracies. It appeared in the Brother Jonathan, about a year ago May 6 and July 8, 1843. I have written volumes of such things, but can recall none just now which seem adapted to your purpose, except these and one called ‘Children, what are they?’ which was the arch-type of many a volume that has appeared since in the shape of Magazine writing about children.

The duel you mention is in ‘76’ at the end of the first vol. I remember it for its bad French — the printer playing the very mischief with my revise.

Tomorrow my son shall copy off a poem or two not over long, which will give you a better idea of the ore than you have had an opportunity of acquiring. If you lay your hand upon a copy of the ‘Yankee’ . . . you will find some lines to an Idiot Boy, which I have had the misfortune to hear declaimed, where it ought to have been “said or sung,” more than once — and the lines, rather lengthy as we say here, to Byron, written just after my return from his funeral in England. They are bold, but want retouching here and there. The poems I shall send are, ‘The Dying Husband to his Wife,’ and perhaps — ‘The Marriage Bing’ — if I can find a copy.

As you promise me a look at the proofs, I begin to feel easy. A word or two, here and there, may serve me at least for another generation and help you.

The second edition of Niagara, preface and all, you ought to have. It contains a great deal of poetry not to be found in the first. . . I want you to read the preface; and to overlook if you can — for I cannot — the affectation [page 171:] and extravagances of some parts, for the strength and sweetness of others.

I have not a copy of Ambition — but when I last saw it going the rounds, I wanted to pull the hair out of somebody’s head — I didn’t care much whose — for two or three lines like these: ‘I loved to hear the war-horn cry” instead of ‘I’ve loved,’ etc. . .

No, I did not dream that you wanted me to review myself, though your language might have admitted such an interpretation, much less that you wanted my opinion of myself, though I might have said so, but simply to state the truth as I might perhaps without unseemly bragging: for in good faith [?] I have had uncommon hardship to grapple with, all along through life, with nobody to help me and fewer still to encourage or sympathize with me. Hence I have been always at war, in one way or another. And yet I acknowledge that I have always been happy — that no man had ever more to be thankful for [cut out] life of worldly comfort, health, strength and household affections — or [cutout] for making war upon its fellowmen. Your lot I see, has been altogether more trying, and you may be sure — you are sure — that my ignorance of your domestic state led to the untimely question about your lost wife. . . I had a sort of notion ‘that you were a bachelor, for which I felt rather sorry, and somewhat vexed, having a horror of such cattle with a house over their heads and the means of making some dear woman happy. Yes, depend upon it, if I go to Philadelphia, I shall hunt you up. Meanwhile, be thankful, if you can, that you lost her so suddenly — that she and you and your children were spared the wasting separation of protracted illness — that the cord of life was not slowly untwisted but snapped and the spirit set free with a bound. God comfort you and your dear children. If you are led this way, of course you will see me and mine, [cut out]

It has just occurred to me that a psalm of the death of Edell Cummin — the death chamber I mean would be likely to suit you. According to my present recollection it is an affecting and faithful picture.

On the whole, as there is no time like the present, I believe I shall go to work myself and send you such samples as lie in my way at once — and in as great variety as I can — part warlike and part of a time of peaceable temper but American at any rate, whatever else they may be.

[John Neal].

‘P. S. — Your determination to go through all my novels reminds me of a similar act of heroism by Longfellow, after his return from Sweden. He had never read one before and had no just idea of anything but my faults [page 172:] and follies, but he began and read through thick and thin, and without stopping, I believe.

Neal’s genius was not everywhere appreciated: ‘The Knickerbocker’, of June 1842, had the following: —

In ‘London Assurance’ there is a character called ‘Cool,’ and his part is one which might be well filled by Mr. John Neal,~a victim of the cacoethes scribendi who has contributed more spoiled paper to line trunks and single fowls than any other writer in the United States. A friend has called our attention to an insinuation, in one of his late crazy communications to a city journal, that he had declined heretofore to write for the Knickerbocker, because he was fearful that he should not be sufficiently rewarded for his pains; as two of our favorite correspondents (whose very last brief communications to these pages brought to the one twenty-five and to the other fifteen dollars) had advised him of old Diedrich’s defalcation in their case I Now we desire explicitly to say, injustice to our reputation for a respectable taste, that we never in our lives saw an article from the pen of Mr. John Neal, in prose or verse, with which we would have encumbered the pages of the Knickerbocker, even had we been paid for so dding; that we never invited him to write a line for our Magazine, nor has his name ever been mentioned or alluded to in any way as one of our contributors. We have been once or twice asked, indeed, by a friend (and doubtless at Mr. Neal’s own instance) to solicit his contributions; but sharing the indifference of the public to his bedashed, inflated, and affected ‘tattlements,’ or rather twattlements, we always very respectfully declined the proposition.


Midnight, March 18, 1845.

Dear Griswold:

. . . Mary remains comfortable, but I think she is fading daily. Her disease is consumption, for which, I am persuaded, there is no cure.

We all often speak of you, Griswold, and wonder what you are doing in these vexatious days. Whipple is still in nubibus. Now and then he descends, but his visits earthwards are but seldom. You may catch him over his coffee at his accustomed “Haven” but he rarely tarries long. At the Exchange Reading Boom hangs one who gathers — subscribers, but was not himself when thus engaged. ‘Tis only when “daylight dies” you may look at him through smoked glass. For women he has no “pangs. “Now [page 173:] and then be mumbleth “Howatt” but this is his only sign of remembrance of the sex.

Let me have Alfred soon and believe me always,

Yours most truly,
J. T. F[ields].

A glimpse of the literary manners of the period is given in the New-York correspondence of ‘The National Intelligencer’ for 20 March: —

The jury, in the case of Park Benjamin and J. W. Judd, indicted for an alleged libel in the ‘New World ‘ newspaper, brought in a verdict of “not guilty” on Saturday afternoon. Owing to the petitions of the parties in the suit, considerable interest was attached to it. The history may be briefly stated. Mr. Cooley of this city, wrote and published a book “ The American in Egypt.” Mr. Gliddon, son of our late consul at Alexandria, saw, or fancied he saw, some unworthy reflections upon his father in said book, and he wrote a severe review of it, exposing in a caustic style its defects and misstatements. Mr. Cooley feeling himself aggrieved, made a personal assault upon Mr. Gliddon, under circumstances which did not impugn the latter’s courage or capacity to defend himself. Mr. Cooley was indicted, tried, and sentenced to pay a fine of $5. ‘The New World “in commenting on the affair, remarked that “Mr. Cooley had acquired his skill in knocking down as a Chatham Street auctioneer.” For this and other remarks of rather a playful than a severe character, Mr. Benjamin was indicted and tried. The jury, in acquitting him, took occasion to add that the article complained of was “ill-judged and uncalled for.” And thus a suit, which should never have been commenced, was terminated.

Benjamin seems to hay been a man of good morals and correct habits, but he had queer notions of literary ethics. In August 1842, ‘The Brother Jonathan’ (then edited by H. H. Weld) published the following from ‘The Boston Post’: —

‘The New York Union,’ in alluding to the exposure of a system of puffing in vogue among a certain class of writers, says: “The Brother Jonathan gives five letters of Park Benjamin, which are piquant models of epistolary composition, brief, bold, admirably qualified to startle a man out of a twenty-dollar bill. ‘The Ladies’ Companion’ was to be reviewed in the ‘Southern Literary Messenger,’ the ‘New World’ and the ‘New Yorker’ by contract; besides which the following stimulant, a kind of whet to the publisher’s [page 174:] s sated appetite, was held out in a postscript: ‘What say you to a first rate notice in the Boston Post?’ Et tu quoque!”

We [‘The Post’] beg to say to the Union, and to the public, that Mr. Benjamin has never written a review for the Post, and had no more authority for putting the above interrogatory to the ‘Ladies’ Companion,’ respecting this journal, than he has to ask a similar question respecting the Union, or any other paper. Our “Literary Notices,” published as editorial, all emanate from our own establishment, entirely uninfluenced by authors or publishers, and express nothing more nor less than the reviewer’s unbiassed opinion of the contents of the volumes and periodicals laid before him.

We [‘The Brother Jonathan,’] publish the above in justice to the Post, and should have said when the letters were published that we knew enough of that establishment to know that Mr. B. does not do his puffing there. We know where he has done it, though, and will publish the proofs if he desires it. The Aurora pertinently asks, “Mr. Benjamin, what do you say to a first rate notice in the Boston Morning Post?”

In its September issue ‘The Companion’ vigorously replied to its assailant in language which reminds the reader that these were the days of the ‘Eatanswill Gazette ’: —

As we always avoid making our pages the vehicle of scurrility, we have to request the forgiveness of our readers, if in noticing a gross attack recently made upon ourselves and the Companion, by the notorious Park Benjamin in the New World, we for once sully them with language repugnant to our feelings. . . Like the viper which was warmed into existence, and repaid its benefactor with its bite, were we repaid by this literary reptile. The Companion, which had hitherto been the idol of his warm laudation, all at once became the victim of his falsehood and scurrility. . . Were aught required to exhibit the nefarious system pursued by this literary hedgehog for a subsistence, we need only inform our readers that it is his constant practice to entice unfortunate authors to entrust their compositions to his care for supervision (?) and sale. If he should be fortunate enough to find a purchaser for them, a heavy discount is then exacted from the unlucky wight; if not, the publisher who declines the negotiation immediately becomes the victim of his scurrilous attacks. For a full development of his conduct towards the Companion we refer our readers to the publication of certain letters of this “Literary Algerine” in the Brother Jonathan of the 18th ultimo. [page 175:]

[[ ——— ]]

New York, May 17, 1846.

My dear Griswold: —

You are so universally known to be plenipotent with booksellers, that I suppose you are never surprised at being called on to transact with them the business of others: and I know that your kindness will excuse a commission from me. I have been wanting for some time to prepare for the Courier a review, or rather extended summary, of the History of the Exploring Expedition, but I have not got the book. A copy was sent to Col. Webb, who copied Chandler’s notice of it, and of course he will do no more. King also has a copy — but he has so deep a prejudice against Wilkes that he would never say anything in his favor. And I, who am the only one likely to do or say anything about it, have not the materials wherewith to do it. And moreover I need not tell you — who are perfectly au fait in newspaper matters, that there is no great inducement for one to write labored and extended reviews when dne has not seen the book to pay for his trouble. Now if L[indsay] and B[lakiston] think it worth while to let me have one of the $25 copies, I will write at least six, and more likely ten, articles about it, for the Courier. It strikes me that this would be for them a better Investment than they have yet made, at least, so far as this paper is concerned. If you can mention this matter to them incidentally — not as by request from me, but as what you know of my wishes, and my ability concerning it, I should be greatly obliged to you, and I will very gladly write extended notices of any books of which they may send me a copy; but when they come to Col. W. (who of course is always entitled to a copy when but one comes), or to King, I shall of course only write such notices as are matters of course, — Carey and Hart used to send me (through your mediation too,) their books — when I was in the Tribune, and I noticed them accordingly. I know it’s hard to make a publisher or any one else believe that a subordinate Editor is an Editor at all: — but you know enough of the proportion of labor they perform, and of the discretion they have, to understand the matter better.

Now, my dear Griswold, don’t go a step out of your way to attend to this; but should you have a good chance to speak to L. and B., or C. and H., about it, you would do me a good service, and, I think, them also.

I was very sorry not to see more of you when you were here. I wanted to know more what you are at and how you flourish. I hope you are working at your Biographical Encyclopaedia, for I think you can make that a matter worth a good many years’ labor, not only in fame but in cash. There is not one extant, I believe, which could compete with it at all, and still it is [page 176:] precisely one of those books which everyone would want. The Harpers are in the way of publishing a good many valuable books of reference, and would be anxious, I should think, to secure that. Could you not make better terms with them than elsewhere? I merely surest it, because I am anxious that it should yield you the uttermost farthing. And why cannot you get it underway? Published in numbers — with a respectable interval between — you could easily follow it up, and it would be “kept before the public” more than if issued in any other way. . .

But I will not bore you with this matter. I hope to see you whenever you come to N. Y. I am boarding now at the N. Y. Hotel, but shall soon be housekeeping at 107 Nineteenth St. You probably saw the Herald’s statement that C. Mathews had fallen heir to a large estate. I am told it’s humbug — but Duyckinck has [illegible] his new novel into Wiley A Putnam’s series! Pray drop me a line as soon as convenient, and believe me, as ever,

Most truly Yours,
H. J. Raymond.

Cornelius Mathews was a man-of-letters whose like has not been seen before or since. He was for many years the constant subject for snubs and ridicule in almost every organ of opinion except those in which he or his friend Duyckinck had a proprietary interest. But the more absurd he was made to appear, the more, apparently, he enjoyed the situation, thinking, apparently, that fame being unattainable, notoriety was a fair substitute. He died 25 March 1889. Concerning the book mentioned by Raymond, ‘The Knickerbocker’ discoursed thus, beginning with a quotation from an article by C. C. Felton in the North American Review: —

Wiley and Putnam’s ‘Library of American Books’ is a series which with the exception of a few of the volumes, is not likely to do much honor to American Literature. It is difficult to imagine what can have seduced those respectable publishers into printing, as one of the series, that indescribably stupid imitation of Dickens, entitled and called ‘Big Abel and Little Manhattan’. [Here ‘The Knickerbocker’ interrupts its contemporary to say that “In justice to the enterprising publishers, it is proper to explain, that ‘Big Abel and Little Manhattan’ was announced through a misunderstanding, or [page 177:] without their knowledge, upon the cover of a previous issue, as one of their forthcoming ‘American Books.’ The author was offered a cheque for a hundred dollars if he would withdraw it from the series; but as it had been printed at his risk, he would not consent to surrender an opportunity of adding to his literary laurels. It is worthy of remark also, in this connection, that the ‘silly and affected motto,’ to which reference is had by the reviewer, is from the same luminous pen that traced of ‘Big Abel and Little Manhattan’ the wondrous history. A library, however, which includes among its volumes such excellent and attractive works as ‘Mosses from an Old Manse’ . . . should not be tabooed on account of “two or three worthless or uninteresting publications] a contribution to the patriotic native American Literature a good deal worse than the very worst things of ‘The Yemassee’ and ‘Guy Rivers.’ Surely, surely, this dismal trash cannot have been seriously chosen as a fit representative of American originality, in a ‘Library of American Books;’ though it does very well to follow the silly and affected motto which some evil-disposed person has persuaded them to adopt from the Address of the American Copyright Club.”

A year before the North-American had paid its respects to Mathews as folios: —

Mr. Mathews has shown a marvellous skill in failing, each failure being more complete than the last. His comedy of ‘The Politician’ is ‘the most lamentable comedy;’ and the reader exclaims, with Hippolyta, ‘This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.’ The ‘Career of Puffer Hopkins’ is an elaborately bad imitation of Dickens; and must be ranked in fiction where ‘The Politicians’ stands in the drama. It aims at being comical, and satirical upon the times. The author studies hard to portray the motley characters which move before the observer in a large city; but he has not enough of the vision and the faculty divine to make them more than melancholy ghosts of what they profess to be. The attempts at humor are inexpressibly dismal; the burlesque overpowers the most determined reader, by its leaden dulness. The style is ingeniously tasteless and feeble. He who has read it through can do or dare anything. Mr. Mathews suffers from several erroneous opinions. He seems to think that literary elegance consists in the very qualities which make elegance impossible. Simplicity and directness of language he abominates.”

After quoting the foregoing, ‘The Knickerbocker’ continues: — [page 178:]

There are two things for which we applaud the author of ‘Big Abel;’ first, his choice of American subjects in composing his books, although his bald imitations of foreign authors make his merits in this respect of very little account; and secondly, his advocacy of an international copyright. By the by, it may not be amiss to remark here, that there have been some amusing ‘illustrations’ of the necessity of an international copyright law by two or three of the new dynasty of litterateurs, whose pen-and-ink works are ‘without demand,’ as the prices-current have it. These ‘minor’ writers, who lament that their ‘book-making’ efforts are rendered nugatory solely by the want of an international copyright law, are very Justly rebuked in these words, by the ‘Courier and Enquirer’: ‘We dislike the prevalent cant about the hopeless condition of American authors. American books are not now published for the first time, nor have books worthy of favor failed in general to receive it; as the works of Irving, Prescott, Cooper, Bancroft, Story, Wheaton, and at least a score of others, can abundantly testify. These we regard are the ‘red-letter names’ of American literature; and although we are glad to see the productions of some of our minor writers about to be issued we dislike the effort to hide greater and brighter names beneath their shadow. There is no ‘patriotism’ or ‘family pride,’ which should lead an American to prefer a bad book, or one of mediocre merit, to a thoroughly good one.’ These are our Knickerbocker’s sentiments precisely; for the expression of which, when we have had occasion, we are denounced by one of the scribes whom we have exposed, as an ‘enemy In the camp of American literature.’ American ‘literature’ / Pish!]; although his pertinacity in obtruding his name in connexion with this object has done it infinite harm, by preventing influential men from giving it their countenance, as they naturally felt unwilling, in a cause like this, to play ‘second fiddle’ to the author of ‘Puffer Hopkins.’ But enough: let it suffice to say, in conclusion, that Mr. Mathews has been so often, and in such a variety of ways, tried in the literary balance, ‘and found wanting,’ that we have no alternative left us but to dismiss him to the unsatisfactory notoriety or the enviable oblivion which awaits him; for as ‘an author’ he can only pass without ridicule when he passes without observation.

In January 1847, ‘The Knickerbocker’ had the following amusing squib: —

We have seldom seen a better satire than is conveyed in one of the recent ‘English Letters,’ written from London to the ‘Evening Mirror,’ by [page 179:] a most veracious gentleman who signs himself ‘F. M. Pinto,’ probably a relative of the great Ferdinand Mendez himself. Mr. Pinto is a guest at Eton-Hall, not a great way from Liverpool, where all Americans make it a point to go shortly after landing in England; and there he encounters James, the novelist, each having been apprised that they were to meet:

“Sauntering into the library, after having taken a stroll through the conservatories, I saw a slender gentleman, dressed in a rather jaunty manner, with a light blue coat and silver buttons, with a green shade over his eyes, examining an illuminated copy of Froissart. There was no other person there, and as I entered, he looked up from the book and said:

‘Ah! I presume this is the celebrated Mr. Pinto, from America?’

‘The same,’ I replied, with an honest blush at hearing myself called ‘celebrated’ by a stranger.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘I am the celebrated Mr. James, the novelist. I am happy to see the countryman of Cooper, Ingraham and Hopkins.’

‘What!’ I exclaimed, grasping him by the hand, ‘do I behold the real G. P. R. James, the author of that prolific Kovel which has appeared under so many different names?’

‘The same. Sir,’ he replied, embracing me warmly. ‘Pray, Mr. Pinto, are my works read in America?’

‘Your work, I presume you mean,’ I replied: ‘why, my dear Sir, it is published once a month regularly by one of our great publishers, and always with a new title. The last time I think it was called ‘Morley Ernstein.’ Can you tell me what it will be called next?’

’I have already chosen the name of ‘Beauchamp ‘,’ he replied; ‘don’t you think it a good novelesque name?’

‘Admirable,’ said I. ‘Now let me ask you, Mr. James, where you obtained that brilliant idea a of beginning your novel by describing elaborately a horseman and so forth, ‘who might have been seen at the close of an autumnal day?’ And also allow me to inquire whether or not anything of the sort ever was seen?’

‘Oh, I understand,’ said the great author; ‘why, that is a trick of my confounded amanuensis, who is a shocking mannerist. I observe that your distinguished countryman, Mr. Simms, has copied that, as well as the other little faults of my novels, very faithfully. Do you know that my publisher once accused me of issuing one of my novels under the name of Simms? Fact. Somebody sent him a copy of ‘Guy Rivers,’ and he swore I wrote it!’”

It strikes us that the power of the burlesque in association could no [page 180:] farther go than in Mr. James’s classification of our distinguished’ authors, Cooper, Ingraham and ‘Puffer Hopkins’!

[In a later letter, Pinto] describes a breakfast at Bogers’, where the following, among other conversation, took place:

“Bulwer, who had been watching his opportunity to say a word, now remarked that he had just received a copy of the ‘Literary World’ [then edited by Mathews and Duyckick] from New-York, and was happy to see from the booksellers’, as well as by the editorial matter, that the Americans still gave the preference to English books. ‘That was an excellent idea,’ ‘of establishing a paper of your own, to review our books after they have been noticed in the forty or fifty literary journals of this country; because your critic will have the benefit of all the opinions that have been expressed abroad before he ventures to give his own, if he should happen to have any. I suppose that your critic, instead of reading the book which he criticizes, just takes and reads some half a dozen or more reviews of it in our journals, and then makes a review out of them.’ I replied, indignantly, that my literary countrymen were entirely independent of foreign criticism, and that they put no value whatever on English reviews in particular. To which he replied, ‘Walker!’ evidently being very much disconcerted, and not knowing what else to say.”

Wholesome and just satire this, ‘which nobody can deny.’

Later in the same year ‘Blackwood’s’ expressed a like opinion of Mathews: —

How it happens that the publishers have admitted to the ‘Library of American Books’ — as if it were a book — a thing called ‘Big Abel and the Little Manhattan,’ is to us, at this distance from the scene of operations, utterly inexplicable. It is just possible that the author may have earned a reputable name in some other department of letters (!); pity, then, he should forfeit both it and his character for sanity by this outrageous attempt at humor. Perhaps be is the potent editor of some American broadsheet, of which publishers stand in awe. We know not; of this only are we sure, that more heinous trash was never before exposed to public view. We read two chapters of it — more, we are persuaded, than any other person in Eng’ land has accomplished — and then threw it aside with a sort of charitable contempt. For the sake of all parties, readers, critics, publishers and the author himself, it should be buried at once out of sight, with other things noisome and corruptible.’ [page 181:]

Griswold, meanwhile, had published his ‘Prose Writers,’ and his view of Mathews is summarized, by ‘The Knickerbocker’ thus: —

Mr. Griswold joins the ‘North-American Review,’ the Knickerbocker, and we may now add, the ‘Democratic Review,’* in animadverting upon those distinctive characteristics of these writers which we have heretofore been compelled, in the conscientious discharge of our duty to our readers, to condemn. For example, Mr. Griswold observes that in the writings of Mr. Simms our attention Is sometimes engrossed by actions, ‘but,’ he adds, ‘we feel no sympathy with the actors. He gives us too much of ruffianism. The coarseness and villany of many of his characters have no attraction in works of the imagination. If true to nature, which may be doubted, it is not true to nature as we love to contemplate it, and it serves no good purpose in literature. Mr. Simms does not discriminate between what is irredeemably base and revolting, and what by the hand of art may be made subservient to the exhibition of beauty.’ This is almost the very language of the Knickerbocker. Concerning Mr. Mathews, our author speaks with equal justice and severity: ‘The style of Mr. Mathews is unnatural, and in many places indicates a mind accustomed to the contemplation of vulgar depravity. Who would think of finding such names as ‘Hobbleshank,’ ‘Greasy Peterson,’ ‘Fishblatt,’ or ‘Flab,’ in Washington Irving or Nathaniel Hawthorne? But they are characteristic of ‘Puffer Hopkins,’ His language is sometimes affectedly quaint, and when more natural, though comparatively fresh, it is rude and uncouth. Some writers are said to advance on stilts; our author may be said to proceed difficultly, jerkingly through mire. The charge of a want of nationality is somewhat stale; but as copies of the works of Mr. Mathews have gone abroad, it is proper to say that nothing has ever been printed in this country that exhibits less the national character. It is not intended here to say that ‘The Politician’ and ‘Puffer Hopkins’ are German, French, or [page 182:] English, but merely that they are not in any kind or degree American. The most servile of all our copyists have thus far been those who have talked most of originality, as if to divert attention from their felt deficiencies in this respect. ‘ Young America’ had not wit enough to coin for himself a name, but must parody one used in England; and in its pronunciamento in favor of a fresh and vigorous literature it adopts a quaint phraseology, that so far from having been born here, or even naturalized, was never known among us, except to the readers of very old books and the ‘Address of the Copyright Club.’ In all its reviews of literature and art, the standards are English, which would be well enough, perhaps, if they were English standards, but they are the fifth-rate men with whose writings only their own can be compared. . . Their very clamor about ‘Americanism’ is borrowed from the most worthless foreign scribblers, and has reference chiefly to the comparatively unimportant matter of style. Of genuine nationality they seem to have no just apprehension. It has little to do with any peculiar collocation of words, but is the pervading feeling and opinion of a country, leavening all its written thoughts.”

This not only ‘hits the nail on the head’; it drives it home, and buries it. We quite agree with Mr. Griswold in the remark, that ‘of all absurd schemes, the absurdest is that of creating a national literature by inventing tricks of speech, or by any sort of forced originality; of which fact, proof enough may be found in the writings of Mr. Mathews.’

Naturally, Mathews and his friends (Duyckinck and W. A. Jones) sought to minimize the influence of a work which held such views, but their success seems not to have been great: —

We [Knickerbocker, May 1847] quite agree with the ‘Courier and Enquirer ‘daily journal, that the reviews of Griswold’s ‘Prose-Writers of America’ which have appeared in the ‘Democratic Review’ and ‘The Literary World’ are ‘very shabby, very weak, and show onlj uneasy malice.’ We understand that the ‘Southern Literary Messenger’ has been hired, by a species of literary ‘dicker’ of no particular value, to republish one or both of those notices. It is well remarked by the ‘Boston Courier,’ that Mr. Griswold and the public know too well how this ‘independent criticism’ is prepared and managed, ‘to be at all affected by malevolence in the mask of candor, or to have any difficulty in detecting the whine of whipped conceit or the howl of mortified vanity in the disguise of affected sneer. Mr. Griswold’s book has been executed honestly, ably and well; and is a valuable contribution to the original literature of the country.’ [page 183:]

International copyright had often been discussed, but the public took no interest in it before the visit of Dickens in 1842. No statement of the case equalled in vigor and simplicity Carlyle’s letter, which, through Dickens, received wide attention: —

Templand,* (for London,) 26 March, 1842.

My Dear Sir:

We learn by the newspapers that you everywhere in America stir up the question of International Copyright and thereby awaken huge dissonance where all else were triumphant unison for you. I am asked my opinion of the matter — and requested to write it down in words.

Several years ago if memory err not, I was one of many English writers who, under the auspices of Miss Martineau, did sign a petition to Congress, praying for an International Copyright between the two nations, which, properly, are not two nations — but one — indivisible by Parliament, Congress, or any kind of human law or diplomacy, being already united by Heaven’s act of Parliament, and the everlasting law of Nature and Fact. To that opinion I shall still adhere, and I am like to continue adhering.

In discussion of the matter before any Congress or Parliament, manifold considerations and argumentations will necessarily arise, which to me are not interesting nor essential for helping me to a decision. They respect the time and manner in which the thing should be, not at all whether the thing should be or not. In an ancient Book, reverenced, I should hope, on both sides of the Ocean, it was thousands of years ago written down, in the most decided and explicit manner, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ That thou belongest to a different ‘nation’ and canst steal without being certainly hanged for it, gives thee no permission to steal. Thou shalt not in anywise steal at all! So it is written down for Nations and for Men, In the Law Book of the Maker of this Universe. Nay poor Jeremy Bentham and others step in here, and will demonstrate that it is actually our true convenience and expediency not to steal; which I, for my share on the great scale, and on the small, and In all conceivable scales and shapes do most firmly believe it to be. For example, if nations abstained from stealing, what need were there of fighting — with its butcherings and burnings — decidedly the most expensive [page 184:] thing in this world? How xnucli more two nations which, as I said, are but one Nation knit in a thousand ways by Nature and Practical intercourse; indivisible brother elements of the same great Saxendom, to which in all honorable ways be long life!

When Mr. Robert Roy McGregor lived in the district of Menteith, on the Highland border, two centuries ago, be, for his part, found it more convenient to supply himself with beef by stealing it alive from the adjacent glens, than by buying it killed in the Stirling butcher’s Market. It was Mr. Roy’s plan of supplying himself with beef in those days — this of stealing it In many a little ‘Congress’ in the district of Menteith, there was debating, doubt it not, and much specious argumentation this way and that before they could ascertain that, really and truly, buying was the best way to get your beef, which, however, in the long run they did with one assent find it indisputably to be, and accordingly they hold by it to this day.

Wishing you a pleasant voyage, and a swift and safe return, I remain always. My dear sir, yours, very sincerely,

Thomas Carlyle.

Here was a new opportunity for Mathews to attract attention, and he was not slo in seizing it: —

We [‘The Knickerbocker,’ Sept. 1842] say it in no spirit of vainglory; but all the arguments advanced in ‘P.’s’ paper on ‘Copyright’ have already been employed by ‘Ollapod,’ Mr. Washington Irving, and the Editor, in these pages. International Copyright is founded on the immutable laws of truth and justice, and it will sooner or later be incorporated in our national statute-book. It is not impossible, however, that the period of its adoption may be retarded by the crude and violent advocacy of certain small litterateurs among us who are riding it as a hobby; whose apparent aim for the protection of their own ‘works’ against British competition gives the whole question an air of burlesque in the eyes of many here, and exerts a positive influence against ‘the right.’


New York, May 23, 1845.

Rufus W. Griswold, Old Friend:

Our friend [G. G.] Foster has got up Shelley’s Poems in the best style, with appropriate introductions, etc. There is not a copy of them to be had here, and I presume not in the Country. You know they ought to be published, and yet there is no house here that is fit to do it. Won’t you [page 185:] speak to Carey and Hart about it? There is no risk, and Foster don’t stand on terms, unless they ask pay from Mm, and that you know is inadmissible. Just have them brought out, or write me about the matter anyhow.

Horace Greeley.


June 28th, 1845.

. . . How stand you “Philadelphia air” now? It must be as hot as tophet. Here we have the thermometer at 85 in the shade, but a sea breeze night and morning that refreshes one mightily to go through the day. At Brooklyn there has not been a night when I could not sleep under a blanket, and this morning in crossing the ferry the water was so rough that the steamers actually careened to the wind.

Yet I am dripping from “exuding pores” while writing this. I would bet now that at the very hours when we have the breezes you have a sort of leaden,”muggy,” sky at Philadelphia, and then you have a kind of sticky feeling under your clothes all day, feeling, the while, as if you would like to be stripped and rubbed with lime juice and. sweet oil to lubricate you. Come to the ocean banks, come to the sea-foamy tide — come snuff the brine and see the porpoises in motion — come hither my friend while you have any liver to bring along with you, and the sea air will pickle it into health in a trice.

Yours always,
C. F. H[offman].


New York, June 80, 1845.

My Dear Griswold:

. . . I may here add, as you do not mention the place of his birth, that Philip Frenau [[Freneau]] was born in Beekman Street, New York, as Dr. Francis and, I think, Mr. Rapelje will tell you.

Do you know, I think you missed it in not giving him more room; — that piece “His blanket tied with yellow strings,” etc. should have been in. There is more of nature and poetry about him than in all the Yankees that follow till you come to Hillhouse. D wight, Barlow etc., were men of great intellectual vigor but their poetry was an exercise of mental ingenuity merely. Freneau, if half an idiot, would still have had more poetry in the other half than could have been squeezed out of all the others boiled down to a consommé.

I am my Dear Doctor, Yours, etc.,
C. F. Hoffman.

[page 186:]

Tribune Office, New York, July 3rd, ‘46.

R. W. Griswold, Esq., My Reverend Friend:

Miss Fuller and I greatly desiderate a set of “Hood’s Works,” or so near them as you can come, preliminary to an article on Hood for The Tribune. Will you send us by Express a set of those works, as soon as you can, whether your own or some goodnatured friend’s? Yours, in the love of Cheap Postage,

Horace Greeley.

P. S. — I will thank you not to be out of town when this reaches the Quaker City.


New York, July 11, 1845.

My Dear Doctor:

I saw Tuckerman last night, who told me that he had rec’d a letter from you In which you spoke of expecting one from me in reply to something you had written lately. I really do not know to what this alludes for I have answered all your letters for some months the moment I received them. They generally contain something about my getting proof “next week” a phrase that seems to have about as much meaning as “your Humble Servant” when the writer has no idea of serving at all.

And so, as I learn from Tuckerman, you publish your letters on Literature in the Intelligencer. I saw an extract from one in the Mirror, and expected daily [more of?] them from you to copy into the Gazette. The Intelligencer I do not see. The Alleghanian, as I told Tuckerman, would be a good paper for them to appear in. This paper [R: Grant] White, who is the sole Editor, tells me is getting along bravely. The Broadway Journal stopped for a week to let Briggs step ashore with his luggage, and they are now getting up steam to drive it ahead under Captains Poe and Watson. I think it will soon stop again to land one of these. Let me tell you a good joke. Poe and Tuckerman met for the first time last night, — and how? They each, upon invitation, repaired to the Rutgers Institute, where they sat alone together as a Committee upon young ladies’ compositions. Odd, isn’t it, that the women, who divide so many, should bring these two together! . . .



New York, July 17, 1845.

Reverend and Dear Sir:

Greeley informs me that you are the only antiquarian to whom to apply for old books — I want a set of Brown’s Novels (Charles Brockden). You have got them — of course you will send them to me. [page 187:]

I propose to republish them in 25 cent volumes, and from what I have read of them (I am now reading Arthur Mervyn), I feel sure they will sell as well as any modem novel. The last edition was (Goodrich’s, Boston , 1827, and copies are very scarce.

An introduction, original, ought to be given, and you could write it — and if you give me the bookstand Preface, I will give you $25. Recollect I am now as poor as Job’s Turkey, and wish to strike when I can do so without molestation.

Suggest some good, old, rare and standard book, — none knows better what will go.

I can get all but “Ormond” here — but would like a complete set — I cannot find that at any of the old libraries.

Please to give me an early answer, for if I begin, I wish to begin soon, yet not to publish till fall.

Yours truly,
[Jonas] Winchester.


New York, July 29, 1845.

My Reverend Friend:

The clock strikes eight P. M., the stage starts for Harlem; and I let it go and leave me here to scrawl you a hasty note. I am debtor to the Greek and to Barbarian in the matter of letters, and I must take the benefit of the act, — there is no help for it. The work I have promised to do would break an elephant’s back, and here I am, badgered to death by all sorts of people from 9 A. M. to late in the afternoon before I can begin to write; then the paper must be attended to, and eight strikes, the stage goes, and I must go with it, leaving letters to take care of themselves, — such is my dally life.

Let me try to give you, in my own loose way, my ideas of our Political Economists. Alexander Hamilton was the first of them, in more senses than one, as indeed he was first in a good many things. Hamilton essentially founded our (Government; Marshall cemented and preserved it. Jefferson has written some very shrewd, strong things on this as on other questions, but he always wrote what the exigencies of the moment (that is, his interests or his prejudices) required, and he is consequently glaringly inconsistent. See his letters to B. Austin, 1816, and one he wrote in ‘23 or ‘4. Madison has written ably and luminously on this subject, and some things he has said have a permanent value. Much of Hamilton’s great Report combats objections to the Protective policy which are no longer [page 188:] urged, and so has only a historic value remaining. Old John Adams wrote nothing on the subject worth speaking of; and John Quincy, though he has written considerably upon it, sometimes ably, does not well understand it, or did not when he came into Congress. Monroe knew very little, as we all know; Jackson ditto to Jefferson in all respects. Matthew Carey has written a good deal on the subject — very good practically, though without a very profound acquaintance with his subject. Hezekiah Niles ditto; Niles has done great good. Condy Raquet [1784-42] has written ingeniously and acutely on the extreme Free Trade side; his writings were formerly known in Europe; Dr. Cooper of Pa. wrote forcibly in favor of Protection, Dr. Cooper of S. Carolina (the same coon) wrote very strongly against Protection. Messrs. Clay, Tod of Pa., and Baldwin (late Judge), have been eminent among the practical expositors of the subject. Mr. Clay has discussed it with a consistency and lucid ability very rarely surpassed. No man has been more happy in his treatment of the subject in what I consider its secondary aspect; but he has written little that will not wear out in the change of times. C. C. Cowley has written and spoken voluminously on the subject. Bollin C. Mallory of Vermont was the successor of Tod, Baldwin and Clay in Congress, and sustained the Protective policy with industry and ability. Mr. Webster has spoken ably on both sides of this question, as the circumstances of the country were favorable — before 1824 for Free Trade, since then for Protection, Mr. Calhoun vice versa. Mr. Calhoun, however, takes a deeper view of the subject than any of the public speakers of our time.

Of our books on the subject little is to said. McYickar stole what little be professes to say on his own hook from McCulloch, etc. But Francis Wayland has written about the best Free Trade book extant, very cogent, clear and taking. There has been no better summary of the question since Say’s. These are my crude notions, they may be erroneous; say what you please.

I have your Hoods and will try to return them tomorrow.

What can you send us of Robert Browning, published by Moxon? Miss Fuller wants Paracelsus, Bordello, etc., especially Bordello. Can you lend it to us?

We have begun your letters, though awfully crowded. Luck to you. Write.

Horace Greeley.

[page 189:]


New York, Aug. 5, 1845.

My Dear Doctor:

I have received a Philadelphia paper containing one of your letters to the National Intelligencer which I was upon the point of handing in as”copy”for the Gazette, when upon a second look at it I found it was “No. III.” of the series. It is eloquently written but (in a degree) I find the same fault with it that I did with your lecture — it is too oracularly positive.

For example: — it may be true that “the learning of Webster is more varied and profound than that of Burke,” but I “doubt it most damnably;” and I or no other man would have any hesitation in giving a flat denial to so positive an assertion without troubling myself to look farther. But had you said “and surprising as were the well known general acquisitions of Burke, it is believed by many, equally familiar with the rich mental resources of both these great men, that Webster, alike in variety and profundity of learning, is not inferior to the all-accomplished Englishman, while some, not without reason, insist that he is immeasurably his superior. And however it may trouble some of his readers, who are unfamiliar with the extent of Hr. Webster’s acquirements, the writer of this essay has no hesitation in classing himself with those who have challenged this comparison in favor of the gifted American. . .

I have been reading lately a very eloquent and inglorious book — “Parker’s Discourses,” — and shocking as the man’s infidelity ought to be to me, upon my word, it did not stir me as much as the Yankee effrontery of the cool taking-for-grantedness of some of his positions. He mistakes assumption for courage and positiveness for vigor. But the book is a great one in its way, so far as ability and earnestness are concerned.

“Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re,” is the tone maxim in writing as well as in life. In passage of mere eloquence, wherein one is supposed to carry the reader or listener on with him in his impassioned excitement, positiveness or “oracularity” is of course in place, for the man speaks as a prophet, as one having authority; but in didactic or character writing the case is different, and if he uses his ipse dixit too often or too strongly, people always do, always have, and always will revolt at it. You say in a public room “General Jackson was the greatest man that ever lived” — “The H—ll he was,” answers a voice from the crowd; another man, who is of the same faith in the matter with yourself, observes aloud, “How old Jackson’s fame seems to grow I upon my word we don’t know but that he may figure in [page190:] history a thousand years hence with Julius Caesar or the best of ‘em. I have always been an out and out Jackson man and therefore my opinion may not go for much, but I do really believe that his reputation will go on growing until Its greatness is acknowledged the world over, and stamped by the historian for all time. Yes, a reputation perhaps not inferior to that of any man who ever lived.”

But this sentence, you say, has no “vigor” in it compared with the first brief assertion. The vigor, my friend. Is In the result — fifty men would entertain your suggestion, would give a lodgement to your idea, when thus presented, while in the other case not one would think of discussing, much less of receiving your proposition — they would think only of the manner of the man that made it — not of the man to which it referred.

Have I bored you to death? Well, I am most anxious to get this thing into your mind, for I think your writings too important to have their efficiency marred by a blemish which must limit their influence unless you will permit yourself to be brought to see the defect and to use care in avoiding it.

And now one word as to my proofs. The book you know was to be ready to send copies to my nephew In England by the first of August. He returns in the Autumn.

C. F. H[offman].


Vineyard, Millwood, Clarke Co., Va., Oct. 15th, 1846.

Dear Sir:

. . . I was born Oct. 26th, 1816 in the town of Martinsburg, Berkeley Co., Virginia. My father, John R. Cooke, of Richmond, Va., is and has long been a man of honorable distinction in the bar of the state. My mother, Maria Pendleton, whom he married In Martinsburg, is sister to Mr. J. P. Kennedy’s mother. I spent several years at Princeton College, N. J., and I believe graduated, although I was not finally examined with my class, and never distinguished myself or took an honor. Whilst at Princeton I contributed several pieces of verse to the Knickerbocker, then, I think, conducted by Mr. Hoffman. On my return to Virginia, to Winchester, where my father then resided, I began (then 18) to write prose and verse for the Messenger, then just started. Before 21 I was a lawyer and married; my wife was Willianne Burwell; I am happy by my fireside at this place on the banks of the Shenandoah, in view, and within a mile, of the Blue Ridge. I go to county towns, at the sessions of courts, and hunt and [page 191:] fish, and make myself as happy with my companions as I can. I have lately spurred myself again into continuous composition and mean Vi finish books. I hare always projected several. And this is the “sum and story” of this “human life” of mine. If you can make anything out of such material, I shall wonder at your skill. I thank you seriously for the favorable estimate you seem to have put upon my random and not much studied poetry. Believe me, very truly yours,

P. P. Cooke.


As Cooke’s letters have few allusions to the events of the day, it seems best to print them together: —

Nov. 8, 1846.

My dear Sir,

You were so kind as to offer me assistance with the publishers in the publication of my poems. I have at last got them ready for the printer, and will probably place the MSS. with Mr. J. P. Kennedy in a few days — as soon as I hear from him.

Will you be kind enough to give me your advice, and whatever other aid, with the publishers, your convenience may permit? I am quite as ignorant as any country gentleman ever was of the business part of literature, and no doubt if my ballads are not to be printed until I (personally) induce a publisher to print them, they will be converted into gun wads first. . . Believe me, my dear Sir, Your obliged and faithful servant,

P. P. Cooke.

P. S. — Mr. Poe holds himself ready to review my book — saying all that fairness will let him say in favor of it. And [B. B.] Miner will give my friends the freedom of the S. L. Messenger for the same purpose. Judge B[everley] Tucker of Williamsburg or J. B. Heath of Richmond will doubtless stand godfather to me here and in the south. So that if there is any spark in my poems it will not be left to die out for want of blowing — puffing perhaps would be the better word.


November 26, 1846.

My dear Sir:

I have just received your letter, and find the difficulty I anticipated realized — the difficulty of getting a publisher for my poetry.

I sent the MSS. of the Ballads, etc., to Mr. Kennedy two days ago; they are doubtless by this time in hands. I leave you to do with them [page 192:] entirely as you see fit — to publish them for me in Graham, if you can induce him to take them or to put them aside for any chance of the future. I leave you to make whatever arrangement with Graham (as to prices etc.) you choose or can. See how much trouble your kind proffer of aid in these matters, has entailed upon you!

The serious drawback to the publication of the poems in Graham is the fact that the best of them contains about 1500 lines — rather a long ‘Ballad.’ There are five Ballads in all. Three of the others are about as long as the Proem — the remaining one quite short. Doubtless you have formed some idea that they were like Lockhart’s Spanish Ballads, in length. If they were they would suit better for magazine publication.

I will not forestall your critical judgment by saying that I consider my Ballads bad — but, rest assured, I will do better things hereafter. When Mr. K. writes to me, I will answer his letter putting all matters touching the poetry under your joint control. If opportunity occurs in the meantime, please get the MS. from him.

Accept, my dear Sir, assurances of my gratitude, and disposition to requite the kindness I liaye received at your hands. Very cordially yours,

P. P. Cooke.

P. S. — You will scarcely perceive how my poems should be called “Ballads.” You are somewhat responsible for the name. I designed to make them (originally) short poems of the old understood ballad cast. I sent you the Proem which you published as a preface to the “Froissart Ballads.” Words in print have a look of perpetuity (or rather of fixedness) about them; and what I would have changed, if only my pen and portfolio had been concerned, your type deterred me from chan4;ing. The term “Froissart Ballads,” however, is after all correct even with the poems as they are. The Master of Bolton is as much a “song” as the lay of the last minstrel, altho’ I have no prologue, interludes etc., to show how, etc., it was sung. And as for Orthone, etc., Sir John Froissart may as easily be imaged chaunting them as talking them.

P. P. C.


December 3, 1846.

Dear Sir:

. . . Be so good as to write to me, here in regard to the fate of my pieces — how you have selected amongst them — when your Book will be out, etc. etc. I perceive that ‘Rosalie Lee’ and ‘The Proem’ have been [page 193:] published in Graham’s Magazine. . . Believe me, my dear Sir, Your obedient servant,

P. P. Cooke.


January 20, 1847.

My dear Sir:

I received a letter from Mr. Kennedy some time since informing me that your kind offices had secured the publication of my poems by Carey and Hart, and that you would write to me on the subject. Will you be kind enough to do so? You have already manifested so great a willingness to serve me that I am reluctant even to ask the trouble of a letter from you.

The Froissart Ballads sent you are certainly not in the high key of a man warm with Ills subject, and doing the thing finely; I wrote them with the reluctance of a turkey-hunter kept from his sport — only Mr. Kennedy’s urgent entreaty and remonstrance whipped me up to the labor. This year, however, I will fan the fires, and make a rush for fame.

Will you have the kindness to put as a note to the mention of Actaeon in the ballad ‘Sir Peter of Bearn’ the following, or something like it:

‘Shakspere, and the old writers generally, Lord Bemers amongst the rest, spell Actaeon as I have done above; the delay on the dipthong in pronunciation, is discordant in verse of rapid measure, and for that reason I have retained the ancient English spelling.’

This note you may not deem necessary, but I dread an inelegance — add it or not as you think best.

If Mr. Graham publishes any of the poetry do not be too exacting as to price. Tell him to send me his magazine — if he publishes them. Believe me, my dear Mr. Griswold, highly complimented by your approbation of my verses, and sincerely desirous to serve you in any way in my power. Yours sincerely,

P. P. Cooke.


February 1, 1847.

My dear Sir:

. . . I gave you full power to contract with the publishers, and would not have hesitated, an instant, to sanction your giving them the work. Of course therefore, the offer of ten per cent, by Carey and Hart is accepted. Indeed I am somewhat mortified that my limited means and family obligations make it impossible to issue the book at my own charge. [page 194:]

I am not surprised at what you say concerning Graham and Godey. Whatever may be my literary rank hereafter, I am yet in obscurity, and ‘magazine articles derive nine-tenths of their pecuniary value to publishers from the known and famous names attached to them. Longfellow’s worst poem, however [much?] a chance effort of mine might excel it, would be vastly more valuable to Graham than anything I could send him. Before hearing of the prize-poem mode of getting supplies, these were my views on the subject, and I expected very little from the magazines — pecuniarily. . .

Believe me, my dear sir, ever grateful for your kindness, and earnestly desirous to serve you in turn. You have earned a right to command me. Your obliged and obedient servant,

P. P. Cooke.


19 February, 1847.

My dear Sir:

I received your kind and exceedingly satisfactory letter yesterday evening. I cannot too much thank you for the remarkable courtesy you have shown me, in this whole matter of publication.

In regard to the ten copies of the poems please retain a copy for yourself. As to the rest I wish one of them presented to H. William Herbert Esq. (Frank Forester) if it can be got to him (with my compliments). — (I have a sportsman’s leaning toward this gentleman — altho I think he writes in the white kid glove style and has a taint of cockneyism.) The other eight copies Messrs. Carey and Hart will please send to Messrs. Bell and Entwistle, Alexandria, who will pay their carriage. B. and £. are in the habit of sending me books by our road wagons- — rather different from Hamden’s express! but very sure.

You are probably right in your preference for the Proem. It was written with excessive care. The Master of Bolton was written not so lingeringly but still quite slowly. Orthone — et id omne genus — were dashed off with as much rapidity as I write this — although of course, slowly revised and pruned afterward. The story of Ugolino I think the best thing in the book.

My literary life opens now, If the world manifests any disposition to hear my “utterances” it will be abundantly gratified. I am thirty; until forty, letters shall be my mind’s calling- avoiding however to rely on them pecuniarily — then (after forty) politics will be a sequitur. [page 195:]

Always command me, my dear Mr. Griswold, aa one who owes you service and friendly regard. Very sincerely yours, etc.,

P. P. Cooke.

P. S. — You may know how tardy the current of the world’s business is in this country neighborhood by perceiving from my dates that your letter was nine days in reaching me.


Richmond, June 6, 1851.

Dear Sir:

I find that any delay in writing what I promised you — some particulars of my brother’s life — would answer no purpose, inasmuch as what I know, I can communicate as well now as at any other time, and I have no means of gathering more information on the subject. The article in the ‘Illustrated Courier’ which I send as a probable convenience to you, will furnish the outline.

I know scarcely anything more than that he was born on the 2dth of Oct. 1816, that he went to Princeton at fifteen and after graduation studied, and commenced the practice of law in the counties of Frederick, Jefferson and Berkeley. As to his graduation you will find in the Literary Messenger of March 1850 a copy of Resolutions of the ‘American Whig Society’ of Princeton, of which he is stated therein to have been a ‘graduate member.’

I scarcely know how to commence the few words I have to say on my brother’s writings, and must beg you to pardon the rude manner in which they will be thrown together — my recollections, I mean. Of course my information — if I give any — would not do to quote — for which it will be totally unfit, — but I hope to present the matter in such a way that you can embody it. My brother’s mind, altho’ it bloomed early, was essentially a late-maturing intellect. Many of his most pleasing poems were certainly written at College and soon after his return — that is between his fifteenth and eightteenth [[eighteenth]] year; namely ‘Dhu Nowas,’ ‘The Song of the Sioux Lovers,’ ‘The Consumptive,’ ‘Count Herman’ and the ‘Moss-troopers’ ballads — these all appearing in the Knickerbocker and the Winchester papers, where also were published ‘Golnon,’ ‘Isabel,’ ‘Kemp,’ ‘The Glider,’ etc. — ‘A Song of the Seasons,’ ‘The Last Indian,’ ‘The Creation of the Antelope,’ ‘Young Rosalie Lee,’ ‘The Huma,’ etc., appeared in the first and second volumes of the Messenger. He had written many prose pieces also, among which three elaborate chapters on ‘English poetry’ presenting a resume of the elder poets and their writings. This also appeared in the Messenger and was [page 196:] highly spoken of by an able critic, Judge Tucker, in his late critique on the ‘Froissart Ballads.’ It was written at eighteen.

My brother’s tastes ran most towards the old poets and prose writers; — The’ dearest books’ as Sir Walter Scott says, in his library were a fine English edition of Chaucer in fourteen volumes, and Lord Bemers’ Froissart, also English, in four large volumes. Keats, Shelley and Coleridge were also favorites with him; not Southey or Byron. When the Ballads were published he had not seen Tennyson, but his poems afterward were favorites with him — more especially ‘Morte D’ Arthur’ and ‘Ulysses.’

Of his own writings he liked ‘Florence Vane,’ ‘Autumn Woods,’ ‘The Mountains,’ and ‘To Lily’ most. The ballads, he told me, were written very rapidly, but, he always said, were true to Froissart. The lines ‘Young Rosalie Lee’ were scribbled on the back of one elaborate poem, the ‘Last Indian’ sent to Mr. [T: W.] White in 1834-5.

He early commenced his historical novel, to be called ‘Ltitzen,’in which that great battle wound up the adventures of young ‘Maurice,’ the hero. It was thrown aside however for years, and his love for that age and its men appeared only in ‘Merlin.’ The plan of Merlin he said was to carry his hero ‘from a Norse hill to Bender and back to Gothland.’

If you have examined the Virginia tales which we looked over at Mr. F.’s you will have seen, my dear sir, that the same mind which produced the prose poem of Merlin also delineated, with a total abnegation of poetry, the homeliest Virginia scenes and characters. ‘John Carper’ and ‘Thetwo Country Houses’ show this more especially. These tales were the commencement of a series which were to dramatize the whole life and manners, history and all, of Virginia and her people. The chivalric poetry had filled my brother’s mind early and long, and he was only banishing it at thirty-three. His intellect — a late-maturing one, as I said — had only commenced training Itself, and his untimely death destroyed the hope of that fruit which his early poems preceded like the blossom. I consider his success, you will pardon my saying, wonderful, considering the profound poetry of his organization. Poets hardly ever make tale-writers.

You will find in the Messenger for June 1850 a very interesting ‘Letter about Florence Vane’ — a gentleman named Hunt, living on the Ohio having named his daughter ‘Florence Vane’. He wrote asking for an autograph of the song and he quotes in his communication a part of brother’s reply. I think it would form a most graceful and appropriate part of your article.

Literature with my brother was a recreation — and he would never [page 197:] write unless he felt the desire and could take pleasure in embodying his thoughts; — he manifested great carelessness as to his literary reputation; of numberless critiques of the Froissart Ballads, he did not, for instance, preserve one. I refer you to the editorial notice of his death in the Messenger for Feb. 1850, for a quotation on this subject from one of his letters. He was at his death writing, or about to write, ‘The Women of Shakspere,’ ‘The Chariot Race,’ and a political and literary satire.

A few words more and I have done. My brother’s character may be best gathered from his own writings. In the lines to ‘My Daughter Lily’ you may discover his warm and affectionate heart, in his ballads the fiery and chivalrous phase of his intellect, in ‘Ugolino’ his pathos, and in all his writings his thoroughly wholesome and healthy character of mind. As a boy and young man he was full of the poetic character — apart, original, and always looked up to by his associates. As he grew older and married, his character became more practical, and long before his death, I can thankfully say, no man was ever more just and practical in his views — that hiatus so often seen in the mind of genius. His feeling toward his family — including my father, mother, brothers and sisters — amounted to a blind devotion, and nowhere is his pure and noble character more evident than in his letters to my father.

A short time before his last illness he introduced into his family of his own accord morning and evening prayer. He died as he had lived, a lofty and pure-hearted gentleman and a humble Christian. God, I feel, has taken him into his holy keeping.

I know nothing more to add. Of the persona’ traits which distinguished him I can hardly trust myself to speak. His carriage was graceful and upright; his frame vigorous and active, trained as he was by constant hunting in the Blue Ridge. His hair was black and curling, his eye dark, clear and bright, his expression calm and thoughtful, his manner impressed with a dignity which at times almost amounted to stateliness. But I do not know how to continue this cold catalogue, — when he rises to me again as he was — the love and admiration of my life. You may find some who knew him well — the Kennedys and others — and they will tell you what I cannot,

I hope you will find something in this long letter to use, tho’ I scarcely expect it. My recollections, I find, cannot be put on paper, even if they were of use. I am afraid they will be of none. With the request that I may hear from you at your earliest convenience, I remain, my dear sir, with great respect. Most truly yours,

Jno. Esten Cooke.

[page 198:]

In October 1845, the literary world was amused by a clever article in T. Dunn English’s magazine “The Aristidean,” a part of which I reprint, as it indicates, more or less accurately, the prevailing opinion of the authors mentioned.

Anxious to present our readers with the best specimens of the poetry of this country, we addressed notes to various of our poets, requesting them to furnish us, without charge, the means of fulfilling our desire. This, we conceived, to be a very modest request. To our surprise, some of these notes were returned, and others were retained, but no reply made. To some we received answers, with the required poems. We print, below, the whole of the latter. Our readers will enjoy these sublime effusions: —

Boston, Sept. 3rd, 1845.

Dear Sir:

I am happy to oblige you. I send you the enclosed, written in my usual terse, epigrammatic style. The high opinion you express of my powers as a poet are [sic] but just; and show you have more taste than the Hollis street congregation. I am, very truly,

John Pierpont.



Ye gentle muses! make me first

Of bards — like Harry Hirst!

To me the fire afford,

Of William W. Lord!

And be my songs like Cole’s “Saul,”

Filled up with most abundant fol

— lol,


de riddle dol!

Ye gentle muses! let my rhymes

Ring like the chinking chimes

Of those Campanalo-

— gian ringers, whom you know,

Within the Tabernacle Hall. [page 199:]

Present abundantly the fol

— lol,


de riddle dol!

Ye gentle muses! if you will,

With fire my verses fill;

Permit this lamp of mine

O’er other lamps to shine;

And, if you won’t, confound ye all!

I’ll treat you to abundant fol

— lol,


de riddle dol!

Philadelphia, Sept. 25th, 1845.

My very dear Sir:

I am pleased to see that you are inclined to do me justice; although the Rev. Dr. Griswold, and be (a) to him, never gave my works a place in his collection of American poetry. I send you a sonnet, of a decidedly original construction — as original as any thing I ever wrote. It is heartily at your service. Could you not contrive to say something about my “great talents,” etc.? I will do as much for you.

Very truly, yours,
Charles J. Peterson.



Author of “Cruizings in the Late War,” &c.

Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow —

Upon her breast a sparkling cross she wore.

Which Jews might kiss and infidels adore —

She roamed where crept the brooklet still and slow.

That too relentless, too obdurate fair —

Who saw was lost. Ah I would he ne’er had seen! —

Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear —

And she was one whose brightness shamed the sun,

Whose eye the sky at noon — whose voice so bland — [page 200:]

’Twas “Yankee Doodle” played by Scudder’s band —

And well that voice an angel might have won —

Why did she love him? Curious fool I be still;

Its human love the growth of human will?

New York City, Sept 28th, 1846.

My dear Sir:

For old acquaintance’ sake, I comply with your request; but your attempt will be a failure. Reasoning a priori, I could demonstrate that it cannot succeed. But I will not waste my logic on an obstinate man. Your obedient servant,

Edgar A. Poe.



Green and specked with spots of golden,

Never since the ages olden —

Since the time of Cain and Abel,

Never such a vegetable,

So with odors sweetest laden

Thus our halls appearance made in.

Who — oh! who in kindness sent thee

To afford my soul nepenthe?

Rude men seeing thee, say — “Gosh!

’Tis a most enormous squash I”

But the one who peers within,

Knowledge of himself to win.

Says, while total silence reigns,

Silence, from the Stygian shore —

(Grim silence, darkling o’er)

”This may perchance be but the skull

Of Arthur Cleveland Coxe so dull —

Its streaked, yellow flesh — his brains.”

New York City, Sept. 18th, 1845.

My dear boy:

With the greatest of pleasure. I am always happy to serve my friends. God bless you. Cordially, yours,

Geo, P. Morris.

[page 201:]



Where Nassau street right-angles Aun.

And newsboys’ voices clear

Shout out — “The Evening Mirror, sir?”

Where apple stands are near

Next door to where a shop is kept

For books at second-hand —

I sit, and think upon “mi-boy,”

Far in a foreign land, it

No more to my good-humor now,

His ready tongue replies —

My heart with bitter grief in full.

And even fuller sighs.

My handsome partner strives in vain.

My general grief to cheer;

“Mi-boy” to foreign shores has gone,

And weeps the “Brigadier.”

Worcester, 9th Mo. 3rd, 1845.

Esteemed friend:

Thy favor of the first of the last month has been received to-day. I send thee a trifle of mine; and hope the proceeds of thy proposed publication will be devoted to the cause of the poor slave. Touching the free negroes, of whose sufferings thou writest, they must wait for relief until slavery be abolished. They should willingly defer their sensual gratification for the benefit of their brethren in bondage, and be content to live in wretchedness, and die of starvation, for the good of the cause.

Thine truly,
Jno. G. Whittier.



A sound upon old Plymouth rock;

Tossing, the giant reels!

Those fearful clanks our senses shock —

There’s fetters on the negro’s heels.

Those heels so long with chains are marred;

Those backs so broad with lashes scarred; [page 202:]

And human fiends, with faces grim,

Dig holes in every negro’s limb,

Then fill them up with salt for him,

And fry him, all alive, in lard.”

Awake! ye cotton-spinners, wake!

Cobblers of Lynn arouse!

Your shuttles and your lapstones take,

And knit in wrath your honest brows.

And if your curses nought avail

To make these haughty Southrons quail;

If tar and feathers come to daunt

The soul within your forms so gaunt

Just tell them that’s not what you want;

And run, like Hubbard, home again.

We have presented our readers with such a collection of gems as were never before brought together. If they, and the correspondence, be not genuine — then we have been most shamefully imposed upon; and we would like to catch the rascal who did it.


New York, Dec. 29, ’46.

Dear Griswold:

. . . My poems are just beginning to recover a little. They have so many errors which both you and I overlooked that I hope they may yet reach another edition to receive my final corrections. If they 95, I shall restore the greater portion of the letter addressed to yourself in “Borrowed Notes” [Phil’a, 1844] with its original date. An ordinary dedication to you, after the amiable things you have said of them in print, would have been in the worst possible taste, and I did not wish to incorporate in a permanent volume my remarks upon the Quarterly intended for a passing occasion. I consider it proper, too, to detach your name entirely from the collection, while it has one fair trial on its own merits. As I should probably, however, never have thought seriously of collecting these pieces unless your instrumentality had first brought them together, the merit of the publication must be yours if it ever proves worth a permanent claim. . . That review of Ingersoll in the Courier — worthy of Macaulay, as I hear many say. What was it? Is there any other E. W. G. but yourself? [page 203:]

Did you see Margaret Fuller’s notice of Longfellow in the Tribune? an admirably done thing so far as pointing out his deficiencies, but wanting in justice to his merits. An additional paragraph pointing out wherein lay his real source of poetic power, clear and undeniable, — his power of personification — would have set all right.

[R. G.] White says he will set this forth in the Gazette of today or tomorrow. He had yesterday a column upon Mrs. Embury, and I believe is going to give the week to the “poets of the season.” His musical criticisms have made a great stir this winter. Ever, my Dear Griswold, truly yours,

C. F. Hoffman.


Baltimore, Jan. 6, 1846.

My dear Sir:

. . . Who wrote Jeremy Levis and the Vision of Rubeta? who wrote Old England by a New England Man? . . .

As to your Prose Authors — I will endeavor to comply with your request in the matter of a portrait, at an early day. . .

I have suggested to Cooke that it might serve his turn to publish his poems in our new press here in Baltimore. You are aware that Park Benjamin has started a publishing concern here which is intended to have great occupation with the South and West. How will it do to put our young poet to this venture?

Yours truly,
J. P. Kennedy.


Portland, Feb. 28, 1846.

Dear Madam [Mrs. Osgood]:

In the name of my father, John Neal, who has authorized me to do so, I take the liberty of begging a favor at your hands. I am making a collection of the hair of our distinguished authors, poets, and painters; and am unwilling to have it so incomplete as it would be without yours. May I hope to possess yours? The tress will, I assure you, be in company of which it would have no reason to be ashamed.

Your sincere admirer,
Mary Neal.


Portland, April 25th, 1846.

Dear sweet Mrs. Osgood:

I guess I do want a lock of Mr. Poe’s hair I and I guess I am an admirer of his Raven; I think it is — I hardly know what word to use — it is strange, grotesque and very beautiful; — but I also want a line of his writing [page 204:] with a lock of his hair, I will enclose in this letter a note for him and then shall be fare of having an answer — don’t yon think so?

Although your letter is dated February 27th I received it only to-day, and am exceedingly obliged to yon for the hair as well as for your kind note; and, Mrs. Osgood, we shall all be “tickled to death” to have that book of yours, particularly Your sincere admirer,

Mary Neal.


New York, July 23, 1846.

Friend Griswold,

I bore you with a few lines only because Schofield is going on tonight, and will take a line to you.

I want to bother you with a word about Literary personalities. Miss Fuller’s book will be out soon, I understand; try to see it before you write about her. See what she has said of Emerson in her notice of his Essays, second series, in the Tribune of December or January, ‘44-5. I wish she was to write you a few words about the Unitarian notables. She knows them well, and says what she knows very forcibly. But it takes her a good while to say it, and she leaves for Europe on Wednesday.

I doubt your finding anything of mine that will justify your putting me in your book, and it were better to omit me than seem to thrust me in on personal grounds. Still, look over and be sure you judge impartially. I think you have not seen a little piece which I hastily wrote one evening last year for a Connecticut Annual, in which it appears entitled ‘Humanity’. The Annual was very provincial, very dull, and rather shabby, and I guess did not get far from the publisher. Please look for it in some hospital for foundered annuals, and glance over this little piece. If I recollect aright, it was a more condensed, clear and satisfactory statement of our Reform notions than I have made elsewhere, and would be worth referring to hereafter.

Do write me and let me know how you get on.

Horace Greeley.


Boston, August 3rd, 1846.

Dear Griswold:

I have just received your favor of the 60th. The sight of your hand again is cheering. I am glad to see you write in such good spirits. Thank you for your congratulations on a certain event. I hope you will be [page 205:] in Boston before you leave Phila. for the south, and it will give me great pleasure to introduce you to the lady.

I am quite curious to see your book. Do send me the proofs as you surest. I sympathize with you in the bard reading you have had to wade through to make the work complete. That’s a good joke about your conversation with “Black Dan.” If ever I make a figure in the world , it will be the figure 0. I take it that the whole affair is purely the creation of your teeming fancy, and that “Black Dan” is some waiter at the Hotel. O you wicked rogue — dost ever read the interesting tradition of Ananias and Sappbira? I have too small a swallow to my self-esteem to take down that story. “Pprithee [[sic]] do not mock me, fellow student.”

With regard to giving me a ticket of admittance to your gallery of prose writers, I shall be very happy to appear in such company, provided I am not cut dead by the rest. My biography is very short, not much taller than my person. I was born at Gloucester, Mass., March 8, 1819. I don’t know when I shall die, but as I am at the end of your list, I trust I shall survive all that go before me. Of the first three years of my life I preserve but an indistinct recollection, — a recollection which I do not desire to make distinct, as a contemplation of the infants I see around me makes me ashamed I was ever a baby. two things, connected with my head, may be interesting to the future historian of American letters. At the age of thirteen months I had are brain fever; and at the age of three, my schoolmistress (devil take her!) nearly cuffed my head off my shoulders, because I did not discriminate with sufficient exactness between the letters E and A. Gloucester is my native town, but at the age of four, I was withdrawn from that sphere of usefulness, and carried to Salem, Mass., where I went to school until I was fifteen. As soon as I left school I stepped into the Bank of General Interest, Salem, as a clerk, and stayed there three years. In the year 1837, at the age of eighteen, I made my triumphant entrance into Boston in an bumble stage which ran between Salem and this city. Since then, you know, I have been in mercantile pursuits. My genius broke out upon me, like a fit of the measles, when I was fourteen. I have scribbled, as you know, — though it is a most profound secret to all the world, ard in spite of friendly notices will probably always remain so, — in various newspapers, magazines and reviews. My first article in a magazine was that on Macaulay, published In the Boston Miscellany, Feb’y, 1843. A singular circumstance deserves to be noted In this connection, that the said Miscellany died with the number for that month. . . [page 206:]

In the American Whig Review, I wrote an article in the number for Feb’y, 1845, entitled Words; in July, on Griswold’s British Poets; in June, 1846, on Coleridge as a Philosophical Critic; in July, 1846, and August, 1846, a long article, continued in August, on Beaumont and Fletcher.

I have written also for Sargent’s Magazine, for the Columbian, for Graham, and one article in the Democratic Review. The best of these are two articles in Graham; one on Elgotism In Great and Little Men, another, published some time last year, on the Literature of the Present Day. . .

I do not care what you say of my articles. If you don’t hit me over the mazard about Macaulay. Don’t say that I imitate him, because imitation Is the worst kind of worthlessness. Say that my essays are worthless in some other form of contempt. The peculiarities of my style, if it have any peculiarities, are peculiar to my mind. They are Indicated in my school compositions before I ever heard of Bab., or read him. Here is something from a composition on The Miser, written when I was a green boy: “While he lives, he lives despised and hated; and when he dies he is remembered only by those whom he has cheated.” Besides there is hardly a prose-writer in English literature that I have not read, and though I have a large admiration of Macaulay’s powers and attainments, I should not think of taking him as a model, more than many others. You must discriminate between admiration of an author and slavish adulation of him. If I aimed at imitation I should take John Milton’s “Reason of Church Government against Prelaty” or his speech for the liberty of Speech, rather than Macaulay’s articles. I think it possible to be a mediocre writer without being a copyist. I say of any one of my articles, as Touchstone says, “a poor thing, sir, but my own.” Now, therefore, I say to you, with this one imputation excepted, ram down your critical cannons, old fellow, and fire away! As I am at the latter end of your work, excuse me if I omit saying, the “devil take the hindmost.”

Fields has not yet returned from his tour to Niagara. All the b’hoys are well. Come on and see us one of these fine days. We will treat you well. Good-by! God bless you, and may all good fortune and blessed spirits be your portion.

Very Sincerely,
E. P. Whipple.

To dear Roof!



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 181:]

*  The ‘Democratic Review’ for March, in a commendatory notice of . . . ‘Library of Choice Reading,’ considers it as unfortunate that the publishers should have provoked a comparison with that series and one so unfavorable to our national pride as their ‘Library of American Books.’ It would have been better, the writer contends, not to have published any of the several books in this series than to have given to the public the ‘lame and impotent’ efforts of Mr. Mathews, and the ‘intolerable diffuseness and endless drawl of words’ which distinguish the writings of Mr. Simms.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 183:]

*  Templand was a farm in Nithsdale which was the home of Mrs. Carlyle’s mother. She had died in the winter of 1842.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 199:]

(a)  We have concluded not to print the word which was written at this place; but have piously supplied its place with a dash. — Ed. of Aristidean.







[S:0 - WMG, 1898] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold [Section 04] (W. M. Griswold, 1898)