Text: William M. Griswold, “[Section 05],” Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold, Cambridge, MA: W. M. Griswold, 1898, pp. 206-255


[page 206, continued:]

New York, Aug. 26, 1846.

G. R. Graham, Esq., Dear Sir:

I send you herewith an account of the Life, Character, Genius and Works of Thomas Carlyle, by one of the only two men in America [page 207:] capable of giving it. The very best man to do this is, of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and this is by the second-best, Mr. Emerson’s pupil, friend and daily companion, Henry D. Thoreau, whose essays and translations of some of the grand Greek Tragedies in The Dial made a deserved sensation. Thoreau is a young man, a scholar, poor of course, and sends this to me to get utterance and bread. I know it is unlike the general staple of your Magazine, but I think it will on that account be relished and give a zest to the work. That it is a brilliant as well as vigorous essay, and gives a Daguerreotype of Carlyle and Carlylism which no man living but Emerson could excel, I believe any scholar would say, and I am confident it would attract many new readers to the Magazine. It would make about a sheet or sixteen pages of the Mag. and would probably have to be divided — I hope but once. If you choose to publish it, and pay as much as you pay others for right good prose (where you are not buying a name) I will make it sell a pile of Magazines, anyhow.

I offer it first to you, and ask you to let me have your decision upon It as soon as practicable. Keep the MS. till I send for it, as I may think best to offer it to Godey If you don’t want it.

Horace Greeley.

Had Greeley known that Mr. Julian Hawthorne was to sit in judgment on Thoreau — and incidentally on himself — forty years later, he would doubtless have written less positively in his friend’s praise: —

The friends of Thoreau have distorted him by interpreting his limitations and defects as virtues and gifts, and magnifying them until their poor possessor becomes unintelligible. Thoreau was neither a child nor a man; he had the narrowness but not the ingenuousness of the former, and the vanity and self-consciousness of the latter, without the redeeming tolerance and common-sense. He had a good, though ultra-bilious, physical organization; his nature was bitter, selfish, jealous and morbid. His human affections were scarcely more than rudimentary; his Intellect was sharp and analytical, but small in scope and resource; he shunned society because he lacked the faculty of making himself decently agreeable; and yet no man ever hankered more insatiably after social notice and approbation. No prudent well-wisher of this forlorn and pathetic personage would have permitted the greater part of the contents of this volume [“Winter”] to appear In print Almost [page 208:] every page is defaced with his vapid and morbid sentimentality. He tries to make himself believe that he is a philosopher, a moralist, a grand, misapprehended soul; he writes interminably in the Emersonian dialect, but thereby only renders his unlikeness to that generous and joyful sage more excruciating. It is evident that he seldom succeeded in deceiving even himself in regard to the emptiness of his pretentions [[pretensions]]. Thoreau was the most dismal fraud of the New England transcendental group. He observed natural phenomena well, and described them with laborious minuteness; but he has added no fact of importance to natural science. Of the books that he published the best thing that can be said is that they are better than the journals published after his death. Such being the man, it would be interesting to ask how he acquired so much notoriety and mistaken adulation. He and Margaret Fuller may be bracketed together in this connection: neither of them was of any actual use or value in the world; and yet a number of amiable and near-sighted people, upon the theory that whoever is exceptionally ugly, self-conceited and disagreeable must possess a superior nature, have made golden calves of these poor mortals, and fallen down and worshipped them in the wilderness. A future generation will correctly appraise the calves; but the worshippers will puzzle them.

The further history of Thoreau’s article is thus narrated by Mr. F. B. Sanborn: —

On the 30th of September Mr. Greeley again wrote, saying, — “I learned today, through Mr. Griswold, former editor of ‘Graham’s Magazine,’ that your lecture is accepted, to appear in that magazine. Of course it is to be paid for at the usual rate, as I expressly so stated when I enclosed it to Graham. . . The pay, however, is sure, though the amount may not be large. . .

On the 26th of October, 1846, he continued the adventures of the wandering essay as follows: —

“My Friend Thoreau, — I know you think it odd that you have not heard further, and perhaps blame my negligence or engrossing cares, but, if so, without good reason. I have today received a letter from Griswold, in Philadelphia, who says: ‘The article by Thoreau on Carlyle is in type, and will be paid for liberally.’ ‘Liberally’ is quoted as an expression of Graham’s. . .

It would seem that “Griswold” (who was Rufus W. Griswold, the biographer of Poe) and “Graham” did not move so fast either in publication [page 209:] or in payment as they had led Mr. Greeley to expect; and also that Thoreau became impatient and wrote to his friend that he would withdraw the essay. Whereupon Mr. Greeley, under date of February 5th, 1847, wrote thus: —

“My dear Thoreau, — Although your letter only came to hand today, I attended to its subject yesterday, when I was in Philadelphia, on my way home from Washington. Your article is this moment in type, and will appear about the 20th inst., as the leading article in ‘Graham is Magazine’ for next month. Now don’t object to this, nor be unreasonably sensitive at the delay. It is immensely more important to you that the article should appear thus (that is, if you have any literary aspirations) than it is that you should make a few dollars by issuing it in some other way. . . But its appearance there is worth far more to you than money. . .

The Carlyle essay did appear in two numbers of “Graham’s Magazine” (March and April, 1847), but alas, no payment came to hand. After waiting a year longer, Thoreau wrote to Greeley again (March 81, 1848), informing him of the delinquency of Griswold and Graham. At once, his friend replied (April 8), “It saddens and surprises me to know that your article was not paid for by Graham; and since my honor is involved in the matter, I will see that you are paid, and that at no distant day.” Accordingly on the 17th of May, 1848, he writes again as follows: —

. . . I finally found the two numbers of the work in which your article was published (not easy, I assure you, for he has them not, nor his brother, and I hunted them up, and bought one of them at a very out-of-the-way place), and with these I made out a regular bill for the contribution; drew a draft on G. B. Graham for the amount, gave it to his brother here for collection, and today received the money. Now you see how to get pay yourself, another time; I have pioneered the way, and you can follow it easily yourself. There has been no intentional injustice on Graham’s part; but he is overwhelmed with business, has too many irons in the fire, and we did not go at him the right way. Had you drawn a draft on him, at first, and given it to the Concord Bank to send in for collection, you would have received your money long since. Enough of this. I have made Graham pay you $75. . .”



My dear Griswold:

I have just returned from a three months tour In the woods where I have been to regain my health. This long absence has broken up all [page 210:] my New York arrangements and I am afloat. I should like to spend the winter in Philadelphia and now do 700 know of any way I could clear my expenses there? The field of literature I take it is pretty well known by you as well as most other fields and If you could wheel me into any of your multifarious plans I should be glad. If not into your plans if you know of any place I could fit In or something I could do, please drop me a line. You know me pretty well how much influence I have with the press, what I can [do] y etc. If you can do me a favor in this respect I shall feel myself much obliged. . .

Truly yours,
J. T. Headley.


Burlington, August 1st, 1846.

My dear Griswold:

I have just received your note, written I must confess, worse than anything I ever saw except a letter which I received of Gen. Cass a few days since. The change in your plan respecting the place I should occupy in your book was quite unexpected and yet gave me much pleasure; not so much from the immortality you design me as for the advance I have evidently made in your good opinion as a writer. . .

I wish before you guage me as a writer you would look at some things of mine not merely descriptive writing — as, for example, my review of Alison in the 2nd number of the American Review, — my “Thiers’ Revolution “in the April number of 1846, and my review of Carlyle’s Cromwell in the April or May number of this year. . . Such kind of writing as these articles contain are more peculiarly my style and my penchant. Descriptive writing is easier and sells better and so I have done more at that. My biography is quickly written. My ancestor on my father’s side was the oldest son of an English baronet. He quarreled with his father and came here and refused the estate after it rightly became his. Mr. Francis Headley is the present proprietor, [and] the author, I see, of a work of some note on Chemistry. My father was a clergyman, and I was born December 80th, 1814 in Walton, Delaware Co.,N. Y. My mother and Doctor Taylor of N. Haven are own cousins and so was she and Dr. Nott’s first wife by whom he had his children. I grew up like most boys fond of sports, especially of the field, and hence my great love at the present day of hunting and fishing. It is a wild and romantic spot on the banks of the Delaware where I first saw the light and I attribute to the glorious and grand scenery of my birthplace much of my love of mountain-climbing and Indeed my descriptive [page 211:] power. I commenced my studies with the law in view but changed my plan. I graduated at Union College and studied theology at Auburn. I was licensed in New York city and had a large church offered to me, but my health was miserable and my physician told me I never could preach. I half believed him but still unwilling to abandon my profession without an effort I took charge of a small church in Stockbridge, Mass., where I thought I could give myself the most favorable trial. After two years and a half I broke down completely and planned a European tour and residence for my health. I went to Italy in the summer of 1842 designing to spend the winter there, the summer in Switzerland, and the next winter in the East. But the climate disagreeing with me entirely — giving me severe attacks on the brain, I was afraid to trust myself in the East — so far away from my friends. So I remained in Italy only about eight months, when I went to Switzerland and travelled over it, cut off a slice of Germany and the Netherlands went into Belgium, from thence to France, then to England, through England to Wales and back again to England and so home, having been gone between one and two years instead of three or four as I intended. My health being worse than when I left home I gave up all idea of following my profession and turned my attention to literature. My first book was a German translation entitled “Scenes and Adventures in Mexico” [by “Sealsfield”]. It was published by Winchester in the spring of 1844 just before he failed and it was lost. My name was not attached to it but it was a good translation. Wiley and Putnam have wanted to republish it in their series of American books but I will not allow them to put my name to it as there is a good quantity of German swearing, et-cetera, in it which would do me more hurt than good. I mention the work simply that you may learn all that I have written and not for material to be used up. My next was Letters from Italy, next Alps and the Rhine, last Napoleon and his Marshals. My next will be, I think, an illustrated work entitled “The Sacred Mountains.” The design of the work is to fill up the outline sketches of the great scenes enacted in some of the mountains on the earth or described in the Bible. . . I mean my next important work shall be a history of the last war. What do you think about it? Could I beat Ingersol? I forget to say one thing in my praise — I was a better speaker than writer when I preached, and I think I am still. I could get more reputation in that department but my health, and especially the bronchitis, now uses me up. I am thirty-two years old, unmarried, and without children. I have given mere heads because I won’t puff myself. As to my studies I have read pretty thoroughly I think the [page 212:] Greek, Latin, Hebrew, German, French and Italian languages. In haste, truly and affectionately yours,

J. T. Headley.

Mr. Headley lived till the 16th of January 1897.


Sunnyside, Oct 21, 1816.


I have repeatedly of late declined to sit for my portrait: partly from a great dislike to the operation itself, and partly because I think there are already portraits sufficient of me before the public. I could not comply with your request, therefore, without the risk of displeasing those whose requests I have heretofore refused. I hope, however, you may find one or other of the portraits by Leslie and Newton sufficient for your purpose. There is one in the possession of my sister In New York, taken by Newton shortly before we parted, some years since, in England. It is an excellent painting, and was thought at the time a good likeness. It has never had Justice done to it by the engraver. I enclose you a copy of an engraving of it published some time since in this country. It misses the character and expression of the original, and is in face and person out of drawing. . . I am sir, very respectfully,

Washington Irving.


New York, Nov. 21, 1846.

R. W. Griswold:

I send you some hasty thoughts about Emerson on the other leaf — mere suggestions for your own article. If you wish further, write confidentially to H. D. Thoreau, Concord, Mass., who can write a much account of him than I can, as I have no time to read or think. He has leisure and talent. Tell him when his article is to appear in Graham If you can. He will be glad to hear from you.

I wish, if you are to put me in your book, you had seen some things I have written — my manuscript Lectures and the article I spoke of. Yon could find the latter at any rate by writing to Hartford for it An orthodox clergyman edited it

I mean to be at Philadelphia for the Webster dinner on the 2d prox. Please not to run off that morning. Either come on the 1st, or stop till the 3d. Write me. Yours,

Horace Greeley. [page 213:]

I am not well since election; have a daughter three weeks old; am trying to write some on a lecture, and make very slow progress. Yet it must be done.


New York, Nov. 28rd, 1846.

[Miss Mary L. Seward (?) to Mrs. Osgood]:

. . . Mrs. Hewitt is still absent, greatly to my regret, for I like her; her husband’s name is again entered upon the list of volunteers for Mexico. Miss Lynch drew a pretty picture for me of her visit to Willis and his bride at their rooms in Seventeenth Street. Everything was couleur de rose. They detained her to tea, and she left quite charmed with the unaffected grace and goodness of her new acquaintance. Willis, I imagine, is trying to woo back, from the past, the better hours of life, but to such as he, already satiated and listless, only their pale phantoms re-appear to mock at and extinguish hope. . . I have heard nothing of the Poe family except that they are in great poverty. Mrs. Ellet has been very ill at the South. Do you see Miss Fuller’s letters? And have you read her adventures on Ben Lomond? Such a blessed mishap for an authoress. . .



New York, Dec. 16, 1846.

Friend Griswold.

Why don’t Graham publish my friend Thoreau’s article on Carlyle? He has nothing in the January number that would be read with greater interest I am disappointed at its non-appearance. Please find out what its prospect is, and advise me.

Mac [Elrath] says you were to write a notice of Lardner for Graham, and Graham excuses its non-appearance by saying you have not written it. M. says he gave you the book on purpose. He wished me to write about it.

When are you coming on? I have been asked to attend your Anti-Capital-Punishment meeting next Monday evening, but don’t want to. Business so presses and I am behind with so many things. I have half a lecture written, and want to write another this winter, but get no time.

I don’t see that book yet. Why is his chariot so long in coming? — By the way, you don’t happen to have a MS. lecture of mine, do you? It is idle to ask, but I have lost one somehow, and it seems as if nobody could have stolen it, so that I must have lent it to someone. Yours, write,

Horace Greeley.

[page 214:]

New York, 20 Dec, 1846.

[Mrs. Mary E. Hewitt to Mrs. Osgood]:

. . . Miss Bogart was there [at the reception of Miss Lynch] — Just returned from her European tour. How well she looks! And oh, Fanny I She has seen Mont Blanc and all the places that you and I would give so much to see!

The Misses Sedgwick were present. They have change their evening from Wednesday to Monday. All regret that you are not to be one of us this winter.

The Poes are in the same state of physical and pecuniary suffering — indeed worse, than they were last summer, for now the cold weather Is added to their accumulation of ills. I went to enquire of Mr. Post [publisher of the Columbian Magazine] about them. He confirmed all that I had previously heard of their condition. Although he says Mrs. Clemm has never told him that they were in want, yet she borrows a shilling often, to get a letter from the office — but Mrs. Gove had been to see the Poes and found them living in the greatest wretchedness. I am endeavoring to get up a contribution for them among the editors, and the matter has got into print — very much to my regret, as I fear it will hurt Poe’s pride to have his affairs made so public. . .

Did you get my letter enclosing a reply to Grace Greenwood? Let me know everything at your earliest convenience. I have removed from the Athenaeum — two weeks since — to Mrs. Rice’s, No. nine Murray St — the next house to the Murray St. House — so you see I am quite in our friend Miss Seward’s neighborhood still. I am most comfortably situated, and my little parlor would suit your idea of a parlor exactly. . .



In “The Independent” of 1 Feb. 1894, Mr. Stoddard pleasantly describes Miss Lynch’s “evenings”: —

“The best preparation for reading these Memoirs of Mrs. Botta [he says] is a glance over the first forty or fifty names in the series of papers which Edgar Allan Poe contributed, in 1846, to ‘The Lady’s Book,’ of L. A. Godey. Familiar with the reputation of the ladies and gentlemen who figure in this list, my acquaintance with Mrs. Botta dates back only forty-four years, when, a timid young person of twenty-four, I was introduced [page 215:] into her salon, either by Dr. Rufus Wilmot Griswold, or by Mr. Bayard Taylor. I had scrawled some immature verse, which Mr. Seba Smith and Mrs. Caroline M. Kirkland thought not entirely unworthy of the places which they gave it, one in ‘The Rover,’ a little weekly, the other in ‘The Union Magazine,’ a monthly of larger size, with illustrations on wood and steel, mezzotints, if my memory is not at fault, by Mr. John Sartain. Mrs. Botta, who was then Miss Anne Charlotte Lynch, was known to me before the date I have specified through her poems in ‘Graham’s Magazine’ and other periodicals, which were copied in ‘The Evening Mirror,’ of which Mr. Nathaniel Parker Willis was editor-in-chief, and in ‘The New York Tribune,’ the critical chair of which was filled by Mr. George Ripley. To meet this accomplished gentlewoman was a distinction, since in meeting her one met her friends, the least of whom was worth knowing. She lived, as nearly as I now recollect, on the south side of Ninth Street, not far from Fifth Avenue, and with her was her elderly mother, and a, young woman who is now Mrs. S. M. C. Ewer, and was a sister of Mr. Charles Congdon, a brilliant humorist, whom I did not know until ten years later. Who witnessed my awkward entrance into Miss Lynch’s well-lighted parlor? I have forgotten who they were. I only know that the night was a cold one; late in November, I fancy, and that, chilled through and through, in spite of a thick cloak which I wore, I stooped and chafed my hands before her glowing coal fire. Many a day passed before I heard the last story about my blundering gaucherie on that woful night — a gaucherie which worsened itself in the sharp eyes of Phyllis. who declared that she wondered at her foolish Corydon. The Willises were there, the poet who wrote “Scripture Sketches” in his youth, and had written much versatile poetry and prose since — letters from all quarters of the world — his second wife and his daughter Imogen. But before these I see Miss Lynch, tall, gracious, kindly, the woman that she remained until the cold March morning two years ago when she wandered out into the worlds [page 216:] beyond this workaday world of ours. Present, also, were two of the swarming sisterhood of American singers, an elderly spinster [Miss Bogart] who was remembered through one of her solemn lyrics, entitled, I think, “He Came too Late,” and a more hopeful married woman, whose songs were of a more cheerful cast. . . On a later occasion, early in the following spring, I met another singer of tender melodies. She came of a poetic family, for, besides herself, I can recall a sister who wrote fairly well. born in Boston, children of a merchant there named Locke, Frances Sargent spent a portion of her girlhood where I passed my boyhood, in Hingham, Mass., where, iu my seventh year, Mr. William Gilmore Sirams improvised his “Atalantis: A Tale of the Sea.” Miss Locke married a painter named Osgood, with whom she sailed for London “where he drew many celebrities, and she warbled her way into their affections, remembering her native land in her first book, “A Wreath of Wild Flowers from New England.” When I met this gentle lady, seven-and-thirty, or it may be thirty-eight summers had touched her, lightly, as it seemed, but heavily, as it proved; for, always fragile, she was in a decline, reminding her friends, after her soul had taken its flight, of Young’s Narcissa —

“she sparkled, was exhaled, and went to Heaven.”

Mrs. Osgood was a paragon. For, loved of all men who knew her, she was hated by no woman who ever felt the charm of her presence. Poe was enamored of her, or fancied that he was, which with him was the same thing. He dedicated a copy of verses to her, a trifle which had served the same purpose twice before. He concealed her name in an effusion of twenty lines, and he reviewed her in his glowing fashion, and no one disputed the accuracy of his verdict, in her case. But Poe had a rival in her affections in Dr. Griswold, whom she transformed for the moment into an impassioned poet. When Edgar Allan was drugged to death at Baltimore, about six months before the time of which I am writing, I scribbled some verse in his memory; and she was good enough to think some of it [page 217:] not unworthy of its theme. She died a few weeks later, and was buried in a hillside grave at Hingham [as a matter of fact, Mrs. Osgood was buried at Mt. Auburn, 15 May, 1850, having died in New York the 12th.] . . .

I return to the list of names in Poe’s “Literati of New York City,” and recover others whom I saw at Miss Lyneh’s evenings at home. Constantly there was Mr. W. M. Gillespie, a mathematician of eminence, who stammered in his speech; Dr. J. W. Francis, who knew and was known to everybody, a florid gentleman with flowing white locks; and Ralph Hoyt. Then came Mrs. Ann 8. Stephens, poetess, writer of stories, and, later, of three or four novels; and next Mrs. Kirkland, Mrs. Embury, Miss Sedgwick, Mrs. Hewitt, Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith, and Dr. Thomas Ward, who, under the Horatian signature of Flaccus, celebrated “Passaic, a Group of Poems Touching that River, with other Poems.” Greater names were those of Bryant and Halleck, and one lesser, in the person of the bard who entreated the woodman to spare the tree.”

The chronology of the Mr. Stoddard’s account is mixed, Willis, for instance, having ceased to edit ‘The Mirror’ in November 1845.

I append the “effusion of twenty lines” to which Mr. Stoddard refers. It was read at a Valentine party at the house of Miss Lynch, on the 14th of February 1846, and was published in “The Evening Mirror” of the 21st, — which fact did not prevent Poe’s selling it as original to two other periodicals three years later. The letters are not italicised in the author’s copy.

To ——

1  For her these lines are penned, whose luminous eyes,

2  Bright and expressive as the stars of Leda,

3  Shall find her own sweet name that, nestling, lies

4  Upon this page, enwrapped from every reader.

5  Search narrowly these words, which hold a treasure

6  Divine — a talisman — an amulet [page 218:]

7  That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure

8  The words — the letters themselves. Do not forget

9  The smallest point, or you may lose your labor.

10  And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

11  Which one might not undo without a sabre

12  If one could merely comprehend the plot.

13  Upon the open page on which are peering

14  Such sweet eyes now, there lies, I say, perdu,

15  A musical name oft uttered in the hearing

16  Of poets, by poets — for the name is a poet’s too.

17  In common sequence set, the letters lying,

18  Compose a sound delighting all to hear —

19  Ah, this you’d have no trouble in descrying

20  Were you not something of a dunce, my dear: —

21  And now I leave these riddles to their Seer.

If this is meritorious as a poem, some rimes which Mrs. Osgood addressed to Griswold, 3d March 1849, are more curious as an intellectual exercise: —

1  For one, whose being is to mine a star,

2  Trembling I weave in lines of love and fun

3  What Fame before has echoed near and far.

4  A sonnet if you like, — I’ll give you one

5  To be cross-questioned ere its truth is solv’d

6  Here veiled and bidden in a rhyming wreath

7  A name is turned with mine in cunning sheath

8  And unless by some marvel rare evolved

9  Forever folded from all idler eyes

10  Silent and secret still it treasured lies

11  Whilst mine goes winding onward, as a rill

12  Thro’ a deep wood in unseen joyance dances

13  Calling in melody’s bewildering thrill

14  Whilst thro’ dim leaves its partner dreams and glances. [page 219:]


Dear Rufus, while the “midnight chimes”

In belfrys weave their merry rhymes —

Why may not I (you know the place

In Suffolk chambers) Join the race, —

And while the Christmas bells are waking,

Give my old Pegasus a shaking!


And first, why don’t you write us, Gris?

And second, why not show your phiz

Where School Street corners Washington,

And books, just bron, begin to run; —

Where Dr. Choules drops in to smoke.

And Whipple stops to have his joke; —

In short, where all the women join

To swell the bulk of Ticknor’s com!


Why don’t you come? ‘tis many a year

Since Gris, and all that’s gay were here;

Since laughter, we remember well.

In number 2 like music fell;

And since at “Haven’s gay saloon,”

You stirred with us the coffee spoon!


Why can’t you come? ‘tis but a step,

A railroad ride, a steamboat trip;

A parting glance at Walnut Street,

And on the Tremont plant your feet!

Swift Olmstead waits with ready pen

To chronicle the best of men; —

You must, you shall, you can’t refuse

Again with us to drink and muse!


Come while you’re young; — we’re getting old.

Our blood is growing thin and cold, —

Poor Tom Gould limps and Whipple goes

With spectacles upon his nose.

Even I, so sound of wind and limb

When last we met, am wasting slim; [page 220:]

And if, dear Gris., you long delay,

You’ll find us packed in hats of clay.


Then boys for copy cease to call!

Cut printers, Rufus, one and all!

Our native oracles, a week

Can wait, before they learn to speak.

Tie up your knocker, say you’re sick,

And Hart will never learn the trick!

Come! Rufus, Come! ‘tis our behest,

Give those dead Prosers one more rest!


Our oysters from their shells exclaim

“Stewed, Broiled, or Roast, — ’tis all the same.

As he may choose, when Gris. arrives

We give our bodies to the knives, —

We long to die, — for fill we shall

The belly of this Prodigal!”

J. T. F[ields].

Christmas Week, 1846.


My dear Sir [Fields?],

I hope you will do whatever you can to favor Mr. Poe In the matter of which he spoke to you in his letter. I suppose you will send him a copy of my poems and one of “Urania,” and refer him for the little facts of my outward existence to the preface to my volume and to Mr. Griswold’s book. I cannot think that he would be much interested to know that I have a little family growing up about me since friend Bufus posted up my history. This is almost the only change in my circumstances which has occurred since that date. But if there is anything about me which a friend might say and a well-wisher publish, say it and trust to Mr. Poe’s discretion. I really believe, however, that I have nothing at present to show for the last half a dozen years of my life, which however have not been idle, and may some time or other bear their fruit.

I have always thought Mr. Poe entertained a favorable opinion of me since he taught me how to scan one of my own poems. And I am not ashamed, though it may be very unphilosophical, to be grateful for his good [page 221:] opinion, and even ventore to hope that he may find something to apprdve in One or two of my last poems — In the one you will send him and in the Pilgrim of last year if he ever sees it.

As for the autograph, that is a ticklish matter. I intend trying for one on the next page, but this sheet has a hot-pressed , repulsive kind of polish more genteel than agreeable to the ambitious designs of one who would desire to be enrolled upon the list of calligraphers. Like my eldest boy, it does not stick to its letters; like some of my Southern friends it seems to have a natural antipathy to the blacks. But the attempt must be made.

Modestly, therefore, yet firmly, avoiding equally the pretentious boldness of John Hancock, and the voluntary self-diminution of those who write their names in the circumference of the same sixpence which already covers a copy of the Lord’s prayer in full, I subscribe myself Yours very truly,

Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Boston, Dec. 29, 1846.


Philad’a, 29 Dec, 1846.

Dear James,

. . . My book . . . will be published in two or three weeks. I dread its appearance. “Young America” will be rabid; and what will be worse, you and my kind friends will be disappointed. I have worked upon It pretty steadily for nineteen months, but it is incomplete, and poor indeed in so many ways, that I grow sick with the fear that it will be read by those who know how such a book should be made. Apologise for me in advance to “Macaulay” [Whipple]. In truth I grew conscientious as I drew near the end of my labors, and felt that I must make an example of somebody, and of whom could I write honestly but of a friend? . . .

R. W. G.


New York, Jan. 12, 1847.

Friend Gris.:

As you don’t come along at all, and are entirely invisible, be so good as to send me my Lecture, and tell me when is likely to be the advent “Of your book, when you are coming here, etc, etc. I am going East soon — perhaps on Friday — to lecture, and want to take my lectures with me, for use and reference. Hereof fail not, but send and write promptly, and receive the thanks of Yours,

Horace Greeley. [page 222:]

Have you seen Emerson’s Poems? Of course you have. Guess you wish some of ‘em were in that new Edition of the Poets?


Washington, Jan. 24, 1847.

Dear Sir —

The subject of international copyright is one towards which I have not directed my attention sufficiently to form a deliberate and settled opinion; nor shall I have leisure to do so during the remainder of this short and busy session.

But should you and other American authors and literary gentlemen think it proper to commit the subject to my charge, at the next session, I would direct my attention to it in the recess and endeavor to carry it through Congress, should my opinion, on a careful examination, be in its favor.

I would in the meantime be glad to be put in possession of such documents as would present fully both sides. With great respect. Yours etc.,

J. C. Calhoun.


Annapolis, Md., Jan. 18, 1847.

My dear Griswold: —

What of your book? What of my portrait? What of the Froissart Ballads? — and what of yourself? I thought you were to be “along our way” in December? I have heard nothing of you.

. . . Have you seen that ox-faced thing in the American Review, engraved from a damaged and condemned daguerreotype in Edwards’ collection. New York? This was done without the slightest intimation to me, and when I saw it very much to my discomposure. But I couldn’t control it, and was obliged to make the best of it.

. . . If you pass through Baltimore before the 10th of March, make your visit there on Saturday and Sunday, as only on those days can I get away from here. They have made me Speaker of the House of Delegates, and I am obliged to be punctually at my post every morning.

Yours truly,
J. P. Kennedy.


It will be noticed that many of the letters mentioned in the Diary are not printed. This is because they were not among those received by the editor from Mr. Griswold’s executor, nor has the former any means of learning in whose hands they now are. [page 223:]

Diary: Feb. 22. Furness told me of Johnson’s informing John Frost he was not mentioned in “The Prose Writers’’: an amusing scene. . . Am invited to write “Washington and his Generals.”

Diary: Feb. 28. A letter from Raymond, in a most friendly spirit. . .

Diary: Feb. 25. Busy all day at Graham’s office.


New York, March 1st, 1847.

R. W. Griswold, Esq., Dear Sir:

I send you herewith a copy of Daggett’s “New York Advertiser,” in a business point of view. I have told D. that you would make him up a column of choice Literary matter for his next number better than any other man can do it, and you must justify my recommendation. Give him a good day’s work, send him the copy by Saturday of this week, and charge him $10.

You understand what is wanted. A column not of puffs of your books, nor Carey’s, nor anybody’s, but of stuff that will cause the paper to be read and preserved. You can put it together if you will. No odds about originality, only it must not be common, and yet it must be adapted to general tastes, not special. Try to do it well. A square or two of Literary Intelligence, very compact, might form a part, only it must be impartial.

Gris. make up for me a brief collection of the best Epigrams in the Language — say three folio sheets of MSS. A page may be given to Epitaphs If you please, though I don’t care. Why did you run off without saying Go’d b’y’e?

H. Greeley.

I shall leave the city for N. H. Thursday morning.


Diary: Mar. 8. . . . The Prose Writers of America published today.

Diary: Mar. 4. . . . Letter from Halleck . . .


Philadelphia, 7th March, 1847.

Dear James [Fields],

The book [Prose Writers] is not received with kindness, and I persuade myself that it receives something less than justice, though I am as sensible as any one of its faults. One of our editors here says it is a bundle of puib of my friends. . . Another says it is a partial compilation, but there is enough original matter in it — such as it is — for a brace of duodecimos. Another declares it is edited by me — perhaps because he does not know the use of words, perhaps because he supposes it is an old book, of which I have [page 224:] been giving the world a new impression. . . Mr. Chandler here — and Mr. Jno. Frost, Mr. “Table Beer” Morris and Messrs. the 70. . .are astonished, and more indignant even than surprised. Greeley is angry at what I offer under the name of Margaret [Fuller], which is very badly written though all true. Inman, Parke God win, \W. A. Jones (how could Whipple puff that miserable diluter of old New Monthly articles?) — E. A. Duyckinck, J. B. Auld, and the whole mob of “Young Americans,” “swear terribly” that they’re omitted and that the amiable Cornelius, centurion of the sect, is so “abused.” Then there is Mrs. Embury, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, Mrs. Sigourney, Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. Ellet, — they all have warm admirers, and could bring witnesses into court, every one of them, to prove that they are equal to De Stael . . . and they are believed. Talking of women who make books, we have had but one in America who merited her reputation — Maria Brooks. Mrs. Smith has talent for writing, and quick apprehension — but the literature of women, everywhere, is, for the most part, sauzle — an expressive word from the feminine vocabulary. . . I call these names to your memory that you may know why my book is damned by all the newspapers so. It has not yet received as civil a notice as the U. S. Gazette here usually gives to a two-penny book of nursery rhymes. You will pardon my weakness in thinking of the failure I have made, for you know It cost me much time and toil. It deserves indeed no great success, but it is condemned for the very reasons of the little excellence it has. . .

I am going to New York early in May to translate for Harper, and edit. The Biographic Universelle. It will occupy me a year and a half or two years, constantly. . .

R. W. G.


Boston, March 9, 1847.

My dear Griswold,

I intended to have written to you a week ago, but have been prevented by a thousand things. As soon as I received the sheets of your new book I prepared a hasty notice for Graham, which I supposed you would see. I think your work is the best you have done in respect to the literary execution, and the general independence and decidedness of the opinions. I have read it with a great deal of interest. I think that a number were omitted who should have appeared, especially Sumner, Hillard and a few others in these diggin’s. I tell people that your work was to have been [page 225:] a hundred pages more, but was cut down by the publishers. There is a certain sulky, sullen magnificence about portions of your introductory essay which especially takes me. You kick more in this book than any other. I have noticed some errors which I shall not trouble you with, being errors of opinion. Bo wen desires me to review the book for his July number — a task which I think I may do. I should treat it more tenderly than any body else among his contributors.

I owe you an acknowledgement for the undeserved panegyric you so bountifully pour upon me. Probably many of the gentlemen who are omitted will pounce upon me for my good luck. They will have the devil upon them if they do. The truth is, from my connection with literary organs, I enjoy a great deal of power, which would make me a dangerous gentleman to abuse. Seriously, I think you have done me, relatively, too much honor. It would not be kind, however, to run you down for that.

What think you of Duyckinck’s new journal? [“The Literary World”] It is better than any thing we have had in the United States, and If it succeeds, and cuts clear from all sectional and personal predilections, will be a valuable aid to American literature.

In the next number of the North American, Bo wen has an article directed against Emerson’s Poems. By the way you once wrote me about a review of Simms, in the N. A.; I thought you might suppose I was the author. It was not so. Felton did that business.

Fields is chirping. I hope to see you on here soon. I am not married yet, but hope to be before the year is out. The lady is the best in the world, of course, and I am the luckiest of men.

All happiness to you, my boy, and good luck to all your brain-children, and good riddance to all your troubles — these are the blessings of Yours

Werry Respectably,
B. P. W.


Diary: Mar. 12. . . . Am criticised severely for omitting J. H. Ingraham, T. S. Arthur, and Wilmer! from the P. W.

One of the above named was thus characterized in ‘The Knickerbocker’ for December of this year: — “ ‘Professor Ingraham,’ who has within the last ten years written more immoral works than any other of the many penny-a-line scribblers to whom the ‘cheap and nasty’ school of ephemeral publication [page 226:] have given birth, has taken to the Church for a ‘living.’

‘We don’t know,’ says the lively and clever ‘Sunday Dispatch,’ ‘whether to sympathize with the Public, the Church, or the Professor himself. We resign the man who wrote ‘The Cigar-Girl of Broadway ‘ and ‘The Dancing Feather,’ thankful that he has escaped from the thick smoke of sin and emerged into a purer atmosphere.’ ”


New York, March 18, 1847.

R. W. G.,

Yours received this day, but I had written and brought In my notice of your book last night. I wrote very hastily, with half a dozen Jawing at me and my boy raising all sorts of mischief in my office, whereby there are several tautological expressions in the notice, but it is pretty fair nevertheless, though it would have been better if I could have read the proof.

Why did you ask about the delay? Didn’t I tell you in my last that I was off to New Hampshire to take a hand in the fight there going on? I only got home Wednesday morning, and despatched your book as soon thereafter as possible. It had not come to hand when I left, a week ago Thursday morning. That’s the whole story.

Your scraps for Daggett, were a little late, but in season, I hope. You must have seen the Ist No. of his Advertiser; I asked you to write for the second and you should have sent to him forthwith.

H. Greeley.

Read Raymond’s and my last in Friday’s Tribune.

In his autobiography Mr. Greeley touchingly refers to the death of this son, which took place in July 1849.


New York, March 18, 1847.

My dear Sir,

Many thanks for your kind intention in regard to the ‘Prose Writers.’ No copy has been received at the Mirror Office, and W. and P. say that none has been received by them for the Mirror or me. It will give me much pleasure to receive a copy and I will say a word about it in the two or three papers for which I occasionally write. But I shall be prevented the pleasure of saying anything ill-natured about it, as people would suspect me [page 227:] of being influenced by spite because my own name is not included among the Authors. I hope, however, that you will not for a moment believe that I ever anticipated seeing my name among the ‘prose writers of America.’ I never had such a thought, and should have been greatly astonished at seeing it there. I remember having heard you say that you have the fullest collection of American books in the country, and it was my intention to send you two or three volumes of mine, which were anonymously published, but as our acquaintance was slight, I feared that you might mistrust my motives. But your book having appeared I will, at a convenient season, make a small addition to your already large library. I have not yet seen the ‘Prose Writers,’ but I believe you have not included in your list the prominent Newspaper Authors of the Country. This I think is a double mistake; in the first place they are the real writers of the country who are, at least, the Exponents of National thought, if they are not directors of it; and in the second place you lose the favorable feeling of an influential class, which, in these days of dollars and cents should always be secured when it can without a sacrifice of principle. You will excuse the freedom of my remarks, and believe them well intended, if they are not well in themselves.

I have just received a letter from Lowell announcing the death of his only child, a beautiful girl little more than a year old. It is altogether the most beautiful piece of prose writing that I have ever read. I do not know whether or not you have included him in the Catalogue of American prose writers, but my partiality for him is so great that I should be tempted to put his name in the front rank of them all. The only person who has expressed an opinion of the book in my hearing was Jones who, of course, thought that certain persons were left out who had a right to a place in it. I see that Dana gives a very generous, but rather slight notice of it in the Tribune of this morning. With much esteem. Your friend and obt servant,

Charles F. Briggs.


Diary: Mar. 28. Kind letters from Ba3rmond and Hoffman.

Diary: April 8. Letter from R. W. Emerson, In which he says he does not think a philosopher [?] is oblige to understand his own opinions.


Boston, April 26, 1847.

My dear Griswold,

I have rec’d your favor and make haste to answer it. I hope the book will be tenderly received in England, though the Examiner and Spectator [page 228:] newspapers are sure to attack it. The chief objection will be the general tone of your composition, and the occasional dogmatism with which your opinions are expressed — also a certain sulky magnificence of style in some parts — a clerical way of saying “I don’t care a damn for anybody” — which is open to criticism. If you desire to avoid the objections to these you must carefully go over your portions, and soften a little here and there. You had better leave out that portion of your remarks about Burke as compared to Webster. It would be Impossible for me to suggest alterations to any extent in a letter. The best way would be for you to take some literary friend who understands the feeling of the London public and have him go over the book with you.

I wish you could manage in some way not to have me come last in the collection as It will expose me particularly to the shots of critics. Also leave out of your notice of me all biographical matter except the time when and the place where I was born, and the fact that I am engaged in Commercial pursuits. Cut out likewise the tremendous puff about my style being Milton and Addison fused together.

I have seen [H: Norman] Hudson and will send you in a day or two some extracts from his lectures and marked extracts from his articles. Give him a fine notice. Speak of his mind as singularly keen, penetrating, powerful and brilliant, with a corresponding sharpness and strength of expression. Refer to his fluency in apt illustration, fanciful, satirical and humorous. Say that his lectures on Shakespeare are great both as specimens of splendid composition and [of] exhausting analysis. Refer particularly to his analyses of characters — especially, Lear, Iago, Macbeth, Othello and Desdemona which are really the greatest extant on those distinguished persons.

Mr. Dana has the highest possible opinion of Hudson and his writings. Don’t put in anything about “cribbing,” because it is not the fact. Dana, whdhas gone over the ground, don’t think so, — neither do I. The only things he has published are an article on Education in the Democratic Review for May and July 1816, — one on Reading in the Whig Review for May, ‘46, and on Festus in the Whig Review for Jan’y and Feb’y 1847. You don’t know what a splendid fellow Hudson is, — somewhat crabbed and individual, but a regular b’hoy of letters for all that.

I am glad to hear that you are well. I am sorry that Duyckinck published that article in the [Literary] World. It is very one-sided and harsh. However, you drew down the lightning on your own head by your shabby genteel damnation of Mathews. [page 229:]

I always make it a role never to join in when there in a cry of condemnation against a fellow creature and author. Mathews has not had Justice done him and therefore he is to be tenderly touched. You may depend upon it that his influence across the water will be against you if you do not modify your criticism upon him. I wish you would take out some of the eulogy on me and put it on to Cornelius. You would not in that case increase the aggregate of your praise. I will write again as soon as I get the material from Hudson.

Very truly yours,
E. P. W[hipple].


Boston, April 80, 1847.

My dear G.

I have received yours of the 27th. I wrote you the day before I got it about Hudson. The objection to your remark about Burke is that though Webster has more in him of the qualities of a practical statesman, and more closeness and rapidity of argumentation, he cannot be compared to Burke in fertility of intellect, both philosophical and imaginative. Burke has supplied or digested the principles, and a good portion of the declamation, of two great parties in Great Britain. Webster more resembles Fox. Perhaps his weight of nature is greater than either, and he may have greater possibilities in his mind; but he can only be compared with Burke in the manner I do it in my article on Webster, viz., in showing that the influence of Burke’s passions and imagination did, in particular instances, interfere with the sobriety of his understanding. You say that the genius of Webster is more various. This is a mistake. Burke’s Works supply more philosophical reflections, more splendid imagery, and a greater variety of thoughts, than those of any man since Bacon and Milton. You are not so fresh from Burke as I am. I have had him on my table for the last five years, and know him through and through. My copy is marked on every page. Besides, in any event, your remark will be considered ridiculous in England. . . In great haste,

E. P. W.


Diary: April 90. Prof. Allen called this evening to invite me to deliver the annual address at Dickinson College.

Diary: May 16. Letter from Simms, which I gave to Miss Allen, as an autograph. [page 230:]


Aiken, May 2lst, [1847?].

My dear Sir:

I learned your arrival in Charleston only this afternoon, and let me say how much pleasure it will give me to receive you here as a guest. We live here in most primitive style — pretty much as one would on a maroon; for this place is noted as a resort for health; and residing here for the present with that end in view, we cannot consider it a home. So if a small room (heartily at your service) and plain enough entertainment will content you, I will endeavor for my part to render what time you may spare me as little wearisome as possible. Aiken is on the R-Road terminating at Augusta, and I would like to hear from you a day or two before you leave the city, that I may meet you at the cars, and avert a mistake in the place of landing not unusual where there is an upper and a lower village of the same name.

In hope of making your acquaintance, my dear Sir, in person before long, I remain Your ob’t servant, etc.,

J. M. Legaré.


Diary: June 30. In the street today met Poe, who was extremely civil. . .

Diary: July 6. Letter from Prescott.

Diary: July 18 [Philadelphia]. Joseph C. Neal committed suicide this morning at his house in Seventh Street, near by. It is given out that he died of congestion of the brain.

Diary: Sept. 16. Tonight have finished Washington and the Generals of the Revolution, of which I have written about one third, for little money and no reputation.

Diary: Sept. 17. At Harper’s had a disagreeable altercation with [Spencer W.] Cone, who was angry that Jefferson should be treated with disrespect, and reviled Clay as if he were a common cutthroat.


Steamer Britannia, Off Halifax, Friday, Sept. 17, 1847.

Dear Rufus,

I promised to write you from Europe, but my rapid flight gave me no leisure for correspondence. What I have seen we will talk over some fine day at Jones’ or elsewhere, but at present “I cannot enlarge,” as the Alderman said to the Mayor. I have visited many spots of great historical and literary interest, — to which my feet made no unwilling pilgrimage, I assure you. I have sailed the Rhine from Cologne to Mayence; stood at the [page 231:] tombs of great warriors from Biohard Coeur de Lion to Napoleon; walked over Waterloo and Bunn3rmede; loitered at Père la Chaise; mused at Abbotsford and Newstead; talked at Bydal with Wordsworth, — at “Our Village” with Miss Mitford, — in his sanctum with Christopher North, who by the way mentioned your Poets of America as a Book on his shelves and one which he loved to read; you will see by the enumeration from my catalogue that I was not idle during my sojourn in distant lands. I have escaped by the good blessing of God a death at Sea; the account of our disaster you will read in the papers. It was a slight thread to hang a ship’s company’s lives upon, but the time had not come for us to make our departure from the lower world. It is a terrible experience, that of seeing two hundred souls fearfully looking out upon a rocky shore uncertain of the issue.

I write this hasty line that you may see I have not forgotten you. We will no doubt meet before long either in Philadelphia or Boston, where we will talk things over. I come home with every wish gratified as far as relates to those countries I have visited, and with a firm conviction that where our lines are cast there blessings most abound. America is the world’s picked garden and I thank Heaven I am one of her sons and

Your old friend, always most truly,
James T. Fields.


Diary: Sept. 24. Met Headley in the street. He is angry at a review I printed in the Literary World of his Washington and his (Generals.


Philadelphia, Oct. 18, 1847.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 11th duly received with list of Contributors to “Washington and His Generals” which leaves you only 96 pages (provided you are not the author of the Essay on “Washington”) for $76. — but as you have had, we acknowledge, a great deal more trouble with the work than I expected, we will place to your credit $150. instead of $96.; — please state if this is satisfactory.

You have received from us in cash on account of the 96 pages $76., leaving a balance of $75. to your credit. We have also credited you with $93.75 for the second edition (1,000) of Prose Writers of America — one half of which, say 500 copies, were sent to England, on which you were to receive $31.25 copyright, and on the 500 for sale in this country, $62.00. . .

Yours respectfully,
A. S. Hart.

[page 232:]

The article mentioned was reprinted in The Tribune, 29th October, as by R. W. Griswold; this would seem to settle the question of authorship.


Diary: Oct. 16. Converse with [Gen, Edmund Pendleton] Gaines after dinner. He says he was 70 last March, and that he first knew Jefferson in 1804, when he was a subaltern. (Query: was J. his father?) He devotes the evening to me, giving many entertaining reminiscences of his life and opinions. Mrs. G. says she governs him easily in domestic affairs.

Diary: Nov. 2. Did not go down town. About 8 o’clock Briggs came up and told me of Headley’s attack upon Hoffman and me in the C[ourier] & Enquirer.

Diary: Nov. 8. Hoffman replies to Headley this morning, and I have left a reply to him at the Courier office.

Diary: Nov. 5. Headley attacks me in the Courier, which refuses to print my reply, and I carry it to Greeley.

Diary: Nov. 8. Meet at Hoffman’s Mr. Thompson, the new editor of the Southern Literary Messenger.


Philadelphia, Nov. 10, 1847.

Dear Sir:

Headley could not have done our book more service if he had tried than by the stir his communications have made in the sale of it.

Your letter in the Tribune was well written and to the point — we learn he will make a further attack on us tomorrow. . . Yours etc.,

A. S. Hart


Diary: Nov. 11. J. T. H. again in the Courier & Enquirer. . . Pass an hour with Prof. Bush, with whom I discuss the whole subject of the Headley controvery [[controversy]], and he proposes very kindly a card with the names of several of my old acquaintances. After dinner Senator Folsom speaks to me of the subject in a very kindly manner.

Diary: Nov. 12. The Headley controversy continues, but I am no longer alluded to in it.


Philadelphia, Nov. 24, 1847.

My Dear Sir:

Pray what think you of the way Mr. Headley and his publishers have been shown up? . . . Yours truly,

Carey & Hart

[page 233:]

Yours of yesterday just rec’d. Send on the Review; we will try to get it in the N. American even if we pay for it. — C. A H.


Diary: Nov. 30. . . . Met S. S. Phelps [Senator from Vermont] who advises me to turn politician. He regrets that he did not denounce the Mexican War in the Senate.


Boston, January 6, 1848.

My dear Griswold,

. . . The only answer he vouchsafes is, that he made the engagement with Mrs. Ellet before the book was published, and before she could see what was said in It about herself. It is all nonsense to pretend to do anything with Bowen when his mind is once fixed. It Is like trying to puff back a hurricane with the breath of human nostrils . . . Besides I don’t believe the lady will do any intentional injustice to any of you . . . However much she may dissent from your opinions, she cannot help acknowledging that you have, in the mere collection of the matter, aud the making out of the biographies, done what nobody else would have had patience or ability to do. You may depend upon it, also, that Bowen will not allow any clique injustice to be perpetrated in his Review.

I am sorry to find that you and the New-Yorkers are on such bad terms with Mrs. Ellet. I always thought that she was considered by you all a lady of great ability, acquirements, and excellence. The truth Is, I have no patience with the New York literati. They are all the time quarreling with each other. Why not kiss and be friends? You have a precious lot of feuds on your own hands. A plague on both your houses, say I. . .

I am glad you like the Essays and Reviews. I see that they are beginning to blackguard me in New-York; and in Phi’a, I have been treated very shabbily. They seem to be apprehensive that the book may prove interesting to the public. . .

E. P. W[hipple].


Concord, May 19, 1848.

My friend Greeley,

I received from you fifty dollars to-day.

For the last five years I have supported myself solely by the labor of my hands. I have not received one cent from any other source, and this has cost me so little time, say a month in the spring and another in the autumn, doing the coarsest work of all kinds, that I have probably enjoyed [page 234:] more leisure for literary pursuits than any contemporary. For more than two years past I have lived alone in the woods, in a good plastered and shingled house entirely of my own building, earning only what I wanted and sticking to my proper work. The fact is man need not live by the sweat of his brow — unless he sweats easier than I do — he needs so little. For two years and two months all my expenses have amounted to but 37 cents a week, and I have fared gloriously in all respects. If a man must have money — and he needs but the smallest amount, the true and independent way to earn it is by day labor with his hands at a dollar a day — I have tried many ways and can speak from experience. Scholars are apt to think themselves privilege to complain as if their lot was a peculiarly hard one. How much have we heard about the attainment of knowledge under difficulties, of poets starving in garrets — depending on the patronage of the wealthy — and finally dying mad. It is time men sang another song. There is no reason why the scholar who professes to be a little wiser than the mass of men, should not do his work in the ditch occasionally, and by means of his superior wisdom make much less suffice for him. A wise man will not be unfortunate. How then would you know but he was a fool?

This money therefore comes as a free and even unexpected gift to me.

My Friend Greeley, I know not how to thank you for your kindness — to thank you is not the way — I can only assure you that I see and appreciate it. to think that while I have been sitting comparatively idle here, you have been so active in my behalf!

You have done well for me. I only wish it bad been in a better cause, yet the value of good deeds is not affected by the unworthiness of their object. Yes, that was the right way, but who would ever have thought of it? I think it might not have occurred even to somewhat of a business man. I am not one in the common sense at all, that is I am not acquainted with the forms, — I might have waylaid him perhaps. I perceive that your way has this advantage too, that he who draws the draft determines the amount which it is drawn for. You prized it [word ineligible] that was the exact amount.

If more convenient, the Maine article might be printed in the form of letters; you have only to leave off at the end of a day, and put the date before the next one. I shall certainly be satisfied to receive $25.00 for it — that was all I expected if you took it — but I do not by any means consider you bound to pay me that, the article not being what you asked for, and being sent after so long a delay. You shall therefore, if you take it, send me 25 [page 235:] dollars now, or when yon have disposed of It, whichever is most convenient — that is; after deducting the necessary expenses which I perceived yon most have incurred. This is all I ask for it.

The carrier it is commonly who makes the money. I am concerned to see that you as carrier make nothing at all, but are in danger of losing a good deal of your time as well as some of your money.

So I got off — or rather so I am compelled to go off — muttering my ineffectual thanks. But believe me, my Friend, the gratification which your letter affords me is not wholly selfish.

Trusting that my good genius will continue to protect me on this accession of wealth, I remain Yours,

Henry Thoreau.

P. S. My book is swelling again under my hands, but as soon as I have leisure I shall see to those shorter articles, so look out.


Boston, June 1, 1848.

My dear Rufus,

Whipple has done the thing in a most brown and beautiful manner. The package contains the whole matter and we hope it will please you. Don’t I5se the document, Rufus, for I cannot put my hands on the verses again if you should mislay them after your usual careless style. You know your weakness, my dear Doctor, and I am not afraid to tell you so to your head that your papers lie strewd about your den like Yallombrosa’s Leaves, only a great deal more so. . .

You should see Whipple’s boy. The little rascal daily peruses a back volume of the Edinburgh Review, and a day or two since got aground on a Macaulay paper. He is a rare youth and bids fair to rival his father in the literary world. . .

Mrs. Haven’s Coffee Boom is swept and garnished. Will you drop in some day, not distant, and imbibe her smoking beverage as it comes reeking by the hand of a maiden unrivalled out of Paradise?

Always most truly yours,
J. T. F[ields].


Referring to the Whig nomination for the presidency in 1848 Greeley wrote in his autobiography as follows: —

I non-concurred in this view, most decidedly. General Taylor, though an excellent soldier, had no experience as a statesman, and his [page 236:] capacity for civil administration was wholly undemonstrated. He had never voted; had, apparently, paid little attention to, and taken little interest in politics; and, though inclined toward the Whig party, was bat slightly identified with its ideas and its efforts. Nobody could say what were his views regarding Protection, Internal Improvement, or the Currency. On the great question — which our vast acquisitions from Mexico had suddenly invested with the gravest importance — of excluding Slavery from the yet untainted Federal Territories, he had nowise declared himself; and the fact that he was an extensive slave-holder justified a presumption that he, like most slave-holders, deemed it right that any settler in the Territories should be at liberty to take thither, and hold there as property, whatever the laws of his own State recognized as property. We desired to “take a bond of fate” that this view should not be held by a Whig President, at all events. . .

In the event, I think the anticipations of those who had favored and those who had opposed General Taylor’s nomination . . . were both realized. He proved an honest, wise, and fearless public servant, — true to his convictions, but yielding all proper fealty and deference to those whose votes had placed him in the White House. None more keenly regretted his sudden, untimely death, — which occurred on the 9th of July, 1860, after he had been sixteen months President — than those who had most strenuously resisted his nomination. . . He was a man of little education or literary culture, but of signal good sense, coolness, and freedom from prejudice. Few trained and polished statesmen have proved fitter depositaries of civil power than this rough old soldier, whose life had been largely passed in camp and bivouac, on the rude outskirts of civilization, or in savage wastes far beyond it. General Taylor died too soon for his country’s good, but not till he had proved himself a wise and good ruler, if not even a great one.

Clay himself wrote: “Magnaminity is a noble virtue, and I have always endeavored to practise it; but it has its limits, and the line of demarcation between it and meanness is not always discernible. . . I think my friends ought to leave me quiet and undisturbed in my retirement. My race is run. During the short time that remains to me in this world I desire to preserve untarnished that character which so many have done me the honor to respect and esteem.” [page 237:]


Washington, July 20, 1848.

Dear Sir [Greeley]:

I have not made my first speech for Taylor. I have not imagined it. I listen to all that can be said, and is said, of that sort, bat I hear of nothing, think of nothing, by which I could move the heads or hearts of my sincere, sensible friends in Ohio. Tet I feel that Taylor is better than Cass, a parallel after the manner of Plutarch (which you can draw better than I) must be my apology for preferring the rude, ignorant, honest soldier to the swindling demagogue, — the hollow, heartless, dishonest humbug, — Cass. There is in Taylor something positive (I speak not of his writings, epistolary or other), but he is a man who can do, has done a thing. He did fight and kill men, and with a sort of infernal manliness, he did go right on from Palo Alto to Buena Vista. He has a will badly educated, ‘tis true, and from his Bulldog defence of Ft. Harrison to his Insane fight at Buena Vista, he seems to have resolved within, to his own mind, “Thy work is given to Zachary Taylor to do — it seems the duty of Zachary Taylor to do this, and it shall be done.” Now, instruct such a man, and he would do glorious good work in his day.

But what can you make of such a miserable rogue as Cass, — no conscience, no sentiment even, which he would not sacrifice for a puffin your Tribune as long as his finger. What can we do! I ask you what can we do else? Can we take Martin Van Buren? Be the representative of a great principle!!! Is not this hypothesis a phenomenon to be wondered at, to be astonished at? How or when or where did he stand fire, whore great principles fought against temporary party expediencies? Has he repented of his ways? It is possible? But has he brought forth fruits meet for repentance? Not yet, till now, that I have seen. And shrewd men suggest revenge as his motive. I doubt, and so (as to him) am damned. Again I ask what can we do but take a nominal Whig, trusting somewhat to Whig affinities, Whig associations, and even antipathies to Loco-focoism.

Elder Boot is yet in the gall of bitterness. “Achilles remains in his tent. He will not fight for Agamemnon, nor yet will he join the Trojan Host.” I fear he will plunge in his madness into more abolitionism. His good heart and manly sense are my hope of him. The rights of the Hudson Bay Co. are to be looked to, as at present advised. I am not sure they may not be bought of that corporation. A treaty would be the natural and easy way to do this; I have no fears of collision with England, unless Cass or such as he get power, and will fear to do right with England. In sorrow and truth I am

Your friend,
Tho. Corwin.

[page 238:]

Ashland, 2lst Sept, 1848.

My dear Sir [Greeley]:

Mr. Stevenson of Cincinnati addressed a letter to you (of which he sent me a copy) which I should be glad might appear in the Tribune, if you see no sufficient objection against it. It serves to sustain the grounds on which I was induced to consent to the submission of my name to the Philadelphia Convention, and that is a point about which I feel some solicitude.

I regret the movements made to bring out my name as a Candidate, both on my own account and that of my friends who made them. I do not think that they can effect any good. After the nomination of the Convention there was but one alternative for me, either to show that it was not the result of the “fair and full deliberations” of the Convention, or to acquiesce. Whatever I might have believed, I could not establish the first, and therefore felt that I ought to submit. I have accordingly quietly submitted, rigorously abstaining from giving to any person, on any occasion, the least encouragement to the further use of my name. But I felt no obligation to go any farther. Both honor and self-respect forbade that I should come out in the active support of a Candidate, who, in a reversal of conditions, had avowed his determination to oppose me.

As to what the Louisiana delegation said and did there is a mystery about their conduct which has never been unravelled. Why has the letter, which one of them asserted he had from Genl. T[aylor] never been published? Why was that withheld from the public which was addressed to the Independent party of Maryland? His approval of what that delegation did, after he secured the nomination, was playing the safe game of “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

Under this view, I feel no obligation to step forth as an active partizan of Genl. Taylor. If I saw in his election greater good than I do, I must suppress all sense of private wrong, and appear openly in his support. But besides the military objection, I fear that his success may lead to the formation of a mere personal party.

I have written an answer to a letter from the Executive Committee of the Whig D. Committee of N. York, expressing in strong terms my disinclination to the further use of my name as a Candidate.

I feel most sensibly for my friends who made the Yauxhali movement.’ Would it not be their best course to discontinue the use of my name, upon the gpround that I am unwilling to be placed in that attitude?

What is to be the issue of the contest? I now think that Taylor will [page 239:] get the Whig States of N. England, and that if he obtains the Tote of Ohio he will be elected. The contradictory accounts from the latter State render it difficult to judge; but it is favorable for him there that the election for Governor first comes on. I am ever truly,

Your friend,
H. Clay.


Lowell, Mass., July 20th, 1848.

Rev. Rufus W. Griswold, N. Y., My dear Sir.

I take the liberty of an old New York acquaintance to address you on a matter of business which may be worth your attention.

Messrs. Merrill & Hey wood, publishers of good standing in this city, wish to publish a work to be called the “Poets and Poetry of Massachusetts” and have had such a work compiled by a young man of no particular literary reputation. They would be glad to have your distinguished name in the title page of the book, if it should be compatible with your other duties to give the matter attention. The Manuscript being furnished, would you, after giving it your supervision, permit your name to be used in the title page and at what price? . . . I remain as ever Your friend,

Charles J. Gillis.


July 8, 1848.

Mr. Griswold:

It gives me great pleasure to comply with the request of your very obliging letter by placing at your disposal the poems in your possession. I have also taken the liberty of sending you some other specimens, which, to quote Willis, I prefer to remember as my own. Not that I wish to press for the admission of a larger number, or dictate to your better judgment, but that you may have an ampler field from which to select. Should you elsewhere meet with anything from either of our pens in time to serve you, it will be at your disposal.

With regard to the prefatory notes I have only to say that we are sisters, and were born in a pretty and secluded district in the vicinity of Cincinnati, where we still live.

Our educational attainments are limited to the meagre and infrequent advantage of an obscure district school whence we were removed altogether at a very early age. With nothing from which to draw but our own hearts, subjected to the toils and privations of poverty and orphanage, with neither books nor literary friends to encourage our predilections, we have been, and still are, humble worshippers of the glorious Temple of Song. [page 240:]

We write with great facility, often producing two or three poems in a day, and never elaborate. Very Respectfully,

Alice Gary.

P. S. — Permit me to add a word with reference to pnblishing our poems in a collected form. We have some three hundred and fifty, exclusive of our early productions, which those in your possession, as to length and ability, fairly represent.

I think they would make a readable book, and our circumstances urge their publication if it would be in the least to our pecuniary advantage. We can engage fifteen hundred or two thousand copies. Would you engage to publish the work on your own terms?

Be kind enough to return the poems I send you, when they shall have served your purpose, as I have no other copies. Those you have collected are, I fear, marred with typographical errors.

A. C.


August 6, 1848.

My dear Sir,

Lowell arrived in town this morning and will remain until next Monday; I told him that I had engaged him to dine with you but that I did not know whether you were in town or not; as he will be on the run nearly all the time that he is here, if you will let me know when you can meet him I will try to catch him for you. He is not stopping at any particular place, as he has a brother at Newark and friends in Staten Island, he will be sometimes at one place and sometimes at another. Do me the favor not to make allusion to the poem, or satire [A Fable for Critics] , that I told you of when you see him, as it is, for the present, a secret which he does not want known. I had forgotten about your Broadway sketches, and now that I think of it I do not think that there is enough of me to make a figure in such a series. I have not the least objection to sitting to you for my portrait, nor to your displaying me in your collection of Curiosities, but I do not see that there is anything about me worth making a note of. As my only intimate friends are Page and Lowell, and as you will see us together in Broadway, perhaps you might sandwich me between my two illustrious companions, and I should be better remembered for being served up with them. Lowell you know all about, and I regret that you do not know more about Page, for he is the kind of person, I think, that you would be likely to reverence. Page is a native of Albany, he has lived the greater part of his life in New York, and has never been abroad. He was a pupil of Morse’s and early distinguished [page 241:] himself by the correctness of his drawings and the richness of his coloring. He became popular at once when his portraits were first exhibited and has continued to improve in his manner, never remaining long in the same stage; he is a devoted student of his art, works hard, reads a good deal, and impresses all his works with the elevated tone of his own mind; hence his portraits all have an air of historic dignity which is seen in the portraits of Yan Dyke and Titian. He is not a mannerist. He has painted several historical pieces, and has a strong tendency to represent scriptural subjects. He has painted an Ecce Homo, now in the possession of Henry Caygill, Esq., of this City, a Holy Family in the Boston Athenæum; a very large composition, still unfinished, of Jeptha’s Daughter, a Ruth and Naomi, a St. John, and other scriptural subjects. The solemnity and earnestness of Old Testament subjects seem peculiarly genial to his feelings. He is an admirable talker, and ever ready to assist or instruct the tyro of art who seeks his instruction; but he is averse to general society, and is rarely seen in the company of artists. All the rest you know.

As for me, I was not regularly bred to the trade of authorship, although I have always indulged “on the sly,” but as my early occupations were mercantile I carefully hid all my literary efforts so effectually under a bushel that I could not lay my hand on the half of them if I were desirous of doing so, as I am not. The first book I published was “Harry Franco,” which brought me so many invitations to write, that, happening to undergo a revolution in my business affairs, I was induced to try my luck at making my sustenance through a quill and have succeeded, so far as the sustenance goes. Poe said, in his absurd sketch of me, that “Harry Franco” was published in the Knickerbocker, but not a line of it was ever published in that Magazine. The book sold well, and was well enough received, but really I do not think it has merit enough to deserve any particular notice. Since then I have written a great number of Magazine articles, some of which have appeared with my name, but the greater part without. I published the “Haunted Merchant,” and a little book for Young Travellers called “Life in a Liner, or Working a Passage.” This little opuscule was very popular, and a good many editions of it have been sold. I don’t know how many, nor who, at present, is the owner of it. I believe that these are all the books that I care to name, unless the letter in answer to John Campbell, which was published by the Copyright Club, be worth noticing. This latter trifle I would like to have alluded to, if you say anything at all about me, because the Centurion [Mathews] has contrived to monopolise all the credit of that [page 242:] Copyright Club business, when, in fact, I did, myself, get up the Club, organized it [28 Aug. 1843] and kept it going until I saw that the Centurion was bringing disgrace upon it, and then I abandoned it. The history of this business is rather funny. I had invitations sent to a few individuals requesting them to meet at the Atheneum Hotel to form a club for the purpose of promoting an international copyright act; when we met there were only Hoffman, Mathews, Duyckinck, and myself present. I proposed Hoffman for chairman, D. for recording sec’y and M[athews] for corresponding sec’y; a treasurer was wanted and I proposed Bradford for that office, and BO the club was formed. We afterwards had some very good meetings at the Athenæum. Bryant consented to act as President, and had it not been for the ridicule brought upon the affair by the monkey shines of Little Manhattan [Mathews], I believe that before this an international Copyright law would have been passed. You know all the rest. By the way, as to my nativity, I am a Yankee like yourself, and if my ancestors did not come over in the Mayflower they did in the very next ship.

Very truly, your friend and obedient servant,
Chas. F. Briggs.

P. S. — To enable you to say that you encountered Page, Lowell and myself in Broadway, suppose that you invite him to come with I.?


Boston, Aug. 15, 1848.

My Dear Rufus,

I should have answered your letter long ago had I been at home to do so. My mother has been and is now very ill at Portsmouth where I have been for many days at her bedside. She is now, thank God, more comfortable, and may yet be spared to us longer.

I heartily approve your Female Poets plan. Your names are good, all of them. Touching the doubtful ones I should, I think, retain Mrs. Mowatt and Jane Lomaz. Of W. (?) Allen I know nothing. She is a woman of stamina I judge from her “Leip (?).”

I have some beautiful poems by me by Mrs. Barnes of New-Hampshire which I will send you if it is not too late for their insertion. They are No. 1, full of passionate feeling and eminently worthy of a place. Let me hear from you at once and I will forward immediately if it is yet in season.

Brief let me be as the mail is just at its last moment of Boston existence. God bless and keep you, my dear Griswold. Kindest remembrances from Whipple and all your friends here.

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

[page 243:]

Wilmington, Dec. 7, 1848.

Friend G.

Seeing in last, or rather Tuesday evening’s Tribune, a decidedly good ‘Song, by H. E. G. Avery,’ reminds me to say to you that I think the writer worth thinking of in any future collection of Am. Female Poets. I think I cannot be mistaken in assuming that she is the one known to me as Harriet E. Groussis, of Cleveland, Ohio, whom I once met in that city, and who has written some remarkably good verses for The Tribune, mostly three or four years ago. Should you care to know anything farther about her, please address J. A. Harris, Ed. Cleveland Herald, who is intimately acquainted with her. She is by trade a school ma’am, rather well looking for a writer of verses, and not now above thirty, I guess.

I thought you were going to send ‘The Sacred Poets’ to me, but I see it is very well noticed in Tuesday Evening’s Tribune. All right.

H. Greeley.


Sandusky, O., Dec 10th, [1848].

Dear Dr. Griswold:

We hear nothing more of les dames through the press. Are the birds seriously frightened? Mrs. E. F. E[llet] has written to a friend of hers in this place making inquiry as to who I am? — probably mistrusting a Foster: and asking that friend if it were possible Dr. Griswold and myself were mutually concerned in that article? The friend, being also my intimate, asked me what answer she should make? I told her to present my compliments to Mrs. E. F. E. and say that the “out West Editor” would inform her, in due time, as to who he is and who edits the Register. I sent the papers containing that 1st article to downeast persons and papers generally, and hear from it in various sources and ways. Best assured it has caused a flutter among the birds of the common kind.

When in N. Y. I heard of Mrs. Ellet’s, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens’, [and] Anne Lewis’ purposes in regard to “writing you and Alice Cary down” and made up my mind to catch them at their game. The letter to which the Rochester article referred, wherein “certain imputations were made against the early writers of N. Y. who had become well known at the West” had particular reference to this very trio, and Mrs. Ellet probably mistrusted it: hence her editorial in the American, drawing me (?) out. I mistrust the result of the first tilt don’t conduce particularly to her comfort. She probably will not answer the queries propounded. [page 244:]

Why is it your new volume is not out West? I have sent to Cleveland and Cincinnati for a copy and the copy is, not there I Your publishers are negligent, I fear.

Yours Sincerely,
O[rville] J. Victor.


[Mrs. Ellet to Griswold.]

Notices — which the Editor of “The Poets” &c, will of course put into his own language: Mrs. Ellet’s father was Dr. Wm. N. Lummis, a physician, and a pupil and friend of Dr. Benjamin Rush, whom in person he strikingly resembled. He resided for some time at Woodbury, N. J. (near Phil’a) but afterwards gave up the practice of his profession and removed to Sodus Bay, New York, where he purchased lands, and spent his fortune in improving them. He was a scholar, a man of taste and refinement, and one of the most highly respected citizens in that portion of the state. He died many years since. His second wife was Sarah Maxwell, the daughter of John Maxwell, a revolutionary officer and the niece of Brigadier General William Maxwell. (This Revolutionary officer has been underrated, and his services passed over, in many historical books. He served to within the last two years of the peace, then resigned his commission in displeasure because an inferior officer was promoted over him. In early life he was an officer in the colonial service, was at Braddock’s defeat and in other battles. He continued in the army after the Revolutionary war commenced: was at the storming of Quebec — the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, etc., etc.)

Mrs. Ellet married very young and removed to South Carolina, where she has since resided.

Writings. [1] Poems, Translations from the French and Italian, some original. [2] Teresa Con tarini, a Tragedy represented with success at the Park Theatre and in the western cities. . . [8] Papers in the American Quarterly Review on “Italian Tragedy” — “The Italian Lyric Poets” — “Lamartine’s Poems” and “Hugo’s Dramas,” “The Troubadours,”?’ Andreini’s Adam,” etc. [4] “The Characters of Schiller” . . . [6] “Joanna of Sicily “. . . It may possibly be worth notice that the paper in the American Quarterly Review on “Andreini’s Adam,” reviewed the Italian drama, which confessedly gave Milton the idea of his Paradise Lost. The conception of character in this drama is worthy of Milton — the language in parts lightly poetical; though its merits are obscured by the artificial taste and conceits peculiar to the scientisti, as they were called — the writers of [page 245:] the 17th century). [6] Country Rambles. . . [7] Some poems and tales have been published in monthly magazines; but they are not worth noticing. Also some papers have been published in the North American Review and the Southern Quarterly Review, New Series. [8] The Women of the Revolution. . .


Philad’a, Dec. 16, 1848.

My dear Fellow,

. . . One of these days I shall be enabled to write your “memoirs,” and do you justice, which is more than the world has ever done for you, although they have evinced a disposition that way in buying nine editions of “The Poets of America.”

Your letter indicates that you must be exceedingly under the weather or under the “rules” as you say you feel as though you had taken a chapter of Lippard. I know how I should feel after attempting so much.

I have just been writing an article which is to go into the no. of “Godey” after the next, entitled, “Brig. Gen. Wm. A. Washington, An Historical Sketch, by Kirk wood,” which I wish you particularly to read and give your opinion on. I have shown it to Wm. B. Reed who has pronounced favorably of it. W. A. W., in my opinion, was a man whose name was too little known for the services he rendered, and I attempted to rescue his immortal remains from mortality in an article of from four to five pages “Lady’s Book.” I am Mr. Griswold,

Yours Truly,
H. C. Baird.


December 18, 1848.

Dear Sir:

C[arey] and H[art] sent me this afternoon a copy of your “Female Poets of America,” which they say is the first copy which has come from the binder’s hands. It is admirable and beautiful in all respects. I have written the accompanying notice. I would send it to Morris, but his paper generally goes to press on Tuesday, and it would be too late for this week. I therefore send it on to you, that you may have it inserted in the Tribune or any other influential paper at once — so that C. and H. may quote it when they announce the book.

You might try whether it is in time for Morris. Tell him confidentially the facts, or show him this note. If you do not get it in time for his paper, I will write another for him, for next week. I will send you some [page 246:] more notices in the coarse of a day or two. It is the best book you have yet made. I predict great popularity for it. Most truly yours,

H[orace] B[inney] W[allace].

Mr. Wallace’s opinion was not universally held: —

It is melancholy to have to make these quotations; It is a poor business to break a butterfly upon a wheel, one which we should not have undertaken as long as such effusions had remained confined to a newspaper comer, or a bard-to fill page of our own and brother monthlies; but presented to us in a solid and durable shape, and announced as a body of literature exhibiting “a pervading aspiration for the beautiful,” we feel bound to say that the beautiful has not been attained, and to show why we think so. It is the duty of the Critical journals to protest against stupidity, and against what is worse, the self-sufficient middling class. Utter incapability, when not amusing, excites our anger or contempt, but placid mediocrity stagnates and leaves us to perish of ennui. . .

Moreover, tacit treaties are entered into between authors, the terms of which are — “Puff my ballads and I will praise your Epics.” We have been Informed that several clever persons in Boston have been spoiled by this log-rolling in literature. Thus it is, that so many poetical flowers who were born to blush unseen, and to waste their sweetness in manuscript, have been unnaturally forced into the full bloom of print, where they look as sadly misplaced as buttercups in a bouquet. There are some indeed who are possessed with a scribblo-mania of seven devil power. The love of notoriety buzzes about them, as the gadfly tormented lo, and drives them to wander in the fields of literature with Griswold for an Argus: an Argus, Who cannot see any more clearly than themselves, that what is well enough in Vers de Society is trash in a volume.

We object to Mr. Griswold as a critic. Because he brought out this hook. The reading-life of the oldest is short and full of weak eyes, and shelves groan with first-rate books. Has a man any right to endeavor to make his fellows waste precious time over “Types of Heaven,” “Dream Melodies,” and “Soul Music”? . . .

We may have been tedious, but we do not think we have been unjust. . . . We can get the good, if we refuse to be pleased with the passable. If we cannot, let us have none. Above all, let us keep before us the important fact, that geese are not swans, not even American geese, and that verses and rhymes do not constitute poetry. The donkey was twice as asinine as before [page 247:] when he donned the lion’s skin. And let Mr. Griswold, if he brings out ‘new edition for the California market, modify the title, and borrowing an expressive word from the Turkish, call it the Bosh-Book, or the Female Poets of America. [Democratic Review, March, 1849.


New York, Jan. 14, 1840.

Dear James [Fields]: . . .

Because I did not print her own estimate of her genius she [Mrs. Ellet] has tried her hand at cutting me up, in sundry quarters. She is inditing a paper upon the book for the North American — haying contracted to do so several months ago, immediately after seeing my proof-sheets embracing her. . . Not a bit abashed by the consideration that she is herself a subject treated in each of the books — nor by that, that she has quarreled with and has been cut by Fanny Osgood, E. Oakes Smith, and half a dozen others who and whose are most especially and particularly subjects for such an article. I dread no honest reviewal, but am nervous about this. . .

R. W. Griswold.

“The American Publisher” of June 1868 give a glimpse of Mrs. Ellet’s literary activity in her later years. She died in 1877:

A curious little case of literary imposition has recently come out In New York. . . In Putnam’s Monthly, in 1868, appeared a sketch of western adyenture entitled ‘Mary Spears,’ written by Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet, a person somewhat known in literature, but who, a little while ago, printed an angry note in a New York paper, violently denying that she had anything to do with literature as a business. She, however, as it appears by Mr. Putnam’s books, received the money for the sketch. So far, so good; but in February, 1868, Mrs. Ellet sold to Harper’s Monthly a sketch of western adventure, entitled ‘Mary Nealy,’ which was, word for word, the same as ‘Mary Spears,’ except a few verbal alterations. This looked as if Mr. Ellet (doubtless from that lack of acquaintance with the business side of literature which she so vigorously insists on) had not only been willing to receive pay for her work, but to receive it twice for the same work. These facts were observed upon, and Mrs. Ellet squarely denied, in a printed letter, haying anything to do with the article in Putnam in 1808. Mr. Putnam then stating the case on his side, she again comes out with the story that ‘a friend of hers’ took the sketch out of one of Mrs. Ellet’s books and sent it to the [page 248:] magazine. Mn. Ellet does not state who this ‘friend’ was. Meanwhile the debit of cash paid to Mn. Ellet for the article in 1868 becomes in consequence very mysterious, as the ‘friend’ must apparently have counterfeited Mrs. Ellet to get the money. These absences of mind will now and then happen, A little while ago Dr. J. W. Palmer contributed, at original, a very lively article to the Atlantic, which, as soon appeared, he (or some ‘friend ’) had mainly extracted from a book of travels.


Boston, January 17, 1849.

Dear Rufus. . .

Don’t you be alarmed, my Dear Boy, about Ellet & Co. There is nothing to be feared. You stand as fair and honorably before the public ai any literary man could reasonably desire. Your books have made you a name among the best sort of people that all the itinerants in York state cannot permanently harm.

I am called away. Let me hear how I may serve you always and believe me your old friend, Most Truly,

J. T. F[ields].


Washington, January 21, 1849.

Friend G.

I received your ‘Female Poets’ yesterday, and am greatly oblige for it. I believe it has been amply noticed in the Tribune, but I will do the worth of it somewhere. It is a good collection, though your style is stiff, and a critic can readily detect samenesses in the notices — can detect them easier than he could avoid them, I fancy. Your touch to T. B. Bead and Miss C. May is cruelly severe — I don’t say it is not Just, but it will add to the already respectable list of your enemies.

What I write for is simply to compliment you on the admirable execution of the work in a secondary sense — not really typographical, nor mechanical, but something above but including these. How could you make the pieces fill out columns and the different subjects square out page so well without being present in Philadelphia f I had to fight desperately with the Whig Almanac for some approximation to this, and only succeeded so long as I made it myself.

Do you know Sarah Helen Whitman? Of course, you have heard it rumored that she is to marry Poe. Well, she has seemed to me a good girl, and — you know what Poe is. Now I know a widow of doubtful age will [page 249:] marry almost any sort of a white man, bat this seems to me a terrible conjunction. Has Mrs. Whitman no friend within your knowledge that can faithfully explain Poe to her? I never attempted this sort of thing but once, and the net product was two enemies and a hastening of the marriage; but I do think she must be deceived. Mrs. Osgood must know her. . .

I never knew till yesterday that Mrs. Osgood was that sister of Alaric A. Locke of whom he talked with me so many years ago.

Only six weeks more here, and I care not how fast they fly. I have divided the House into two parties — one that would like to see me extinguished and the other that wouldn’t be satisfied without a hand in doing it [in consequence of his exposure of the mileage frauds by which members of congress added largely to their salaries.] I have to write about myself to a most disgusting extent, but I don’t see how I can help it when every day starts some lie like that of my taking Long Mileage, voting for the Books, etc. And as neither the Intelligencer nor Union will say a word for me, and the Intelligencer refused to print the only note I ever sent it, I have no utterance but through The Tribune. If they would give me the floor but one half hour on the Mileage Question, and let me speak without incessant interruption, I would ask no odds ever after. But I don’t suppose I shall get another chance to speak on it at all, and I haven’t had half a one yet.

Horace Greeley.


Mt. Healthy, Jan. 26, 1849.

Mr. Griswold — . . .

I can never sufficiently thank you for the kind interest you take in myself and sister. . .

We think of visiting the eastern cities next summer when I hope for the happiness of seeing you — in the meantime, I shall not fail to exert myself to more fully merit the very flattering opinion you are pleased to express of me.

I am very happy to avail myself of your obliging offer to secure for us a more available disposal of our poems. Any arrangements you may And it convenient to make will be gratefully endorsed by us — but I must protest against your giving yourself any trouble on our account.

We have until quite recently written gratuitously, but are now receiving a trifling remuneration for our correspondence — to give you an idea of its amount, I will state that we write alternately for The National Era every week for two dollars an article! We have several other engagements on [page 250:] terms a trifle in advance of those stated, and as we are dependent on our poems almost exclusively, it is advisable that we make the best disposal of them.

Be assured that I shall be most happy to number yon among my correspondents, and shall gratefully and proudly receive any communication with which you may be pleased to favor me, but business must plead my excuse for so early an intrusion upon your notice. It would certainly be a gratification to me to have our poems, or rather a selection from them, issued by one of our eastern publishers, and if you can dispose of the copyright so as to ensure you a compensation for editing the work, and will consent to edit It, we shall be content to receive whatever more there may be, or if nothing more, to receive nothing.” Should you be able to make such arrangements, we will immediately set about the preparation of the volume. We have selected “Woodnotes” as a title — what do you think of it? Any suggestions you may make with reference to the proposed volume will be gratefully received.

I cannot close without again offering my grateful acknowledgements for the kind favor with which you have been pleased to honor me, and expressing the hope you may be speedily restored to perfect health,

I am, with sincere regard, very truly yours,

Alice Gary.


Boston, Feb. 28, 1849.

Dear Grissy:

Thank you for your admirable letter. I enclose with this the proof sheets of my volume as far as it is printed. It will be a handsome book as regards paper and printing and I hope will not disgrace the friends of the author. Write me by return of mail if you have time to look at the sheets and how you like the new poems. Whittier, Longfellow and Holmes praise the unpublished lyrics, especially “The Tempest” and “The Antlers.” If you don’t like them I shall burn my book and drown myself.

How sad is poor Hoffman’s fate. Write me the cause, don’t fail, by return of mail.

Longfellow’s new Bk. Kavanagh is fine. Better than Hyperion. Why in Time don’t you come our way and see the boys? E. P. Whipple, Essayist, has the fattest baby with the largest head in the States. J. T. F. has the nicest little woman at his elbow (who says, “remember me to Hr. Griswold ”) in all Boston. [page 251:]

We are all well and I hope to be at Trade Sale and go to Miss Lynch’s and look upon the notorieties of the great city with you and Fanny Osgood. Till then adieu. Yours always, Dear Rufus,

J. T. F[ields].


Burlington, Vt., May 11, 1849.

Dear Sir,

I got your letter of the 6th inst. last evening (being here on a visit) whither it followed me from Highgate. As there is no time for “manners,” let me say at once that I thank you heartily for your proposal — and cheerfully accept it — though I could wish that I had a little time to polish up my “minor” pieces, which, I fear will hardly afford “specimens” that will warrant you in speaking as well of the writer as the longer and more elaborate articles. If you can make room for so much, I hope you will not fail to print “Miss McB[ride]” entire. This, with “The Legal Ballad,” or a few extracts from “Progress” will probably fill all the space you can spare — if not, add the “Sonnet” or the “Rhyme of the Bail” — or the Dog Days, or what you will — only remembering to get in “Miss McB.” bodily — and consult your taste for the rest. Pray take care of the punctuation and the like — “what you’d have it, make it.” I send you another copy of “Progress” with corrections and marked passages — also a correct copy of “Miss MacB.” for your use. I have no copy of “the New Rape of the Lock” — you will find that, if you choose to see it in the Decr. Knick. 1847. . . As to making a collection, I may do so by and by, when you shall find me a publisher (which I have never sought as yet) who will do it up neatly with illustrations in the Darley way. . . Yours very truly,

John G. Saxe.

P. S. — My friend Mr. Stansbury says he shall send you by tS-day’s mail some pleasant remarks personal to myself which will a little relieve the barren figures I have put together for you.

Yours &c,
J. G. Saxe.

John G. Saxe born at Highgate, on the 2nd day of June, 1816, — son of late Hon. Peter Saxe (a German with a Yankee wife) — worked on the homestead in H. up to the age of 17 — then at the Academy in St. Albans — then 3 years in Middlebury Coll. Vt., graduating in the summer of 1839. Read Law in Lockport, N. T. and St. Albans, Vt. four years — and admitted to the Bar at the latter place Sept. 1843 — since then residing at St. A. and [page 252:] Highgate, practicing Law for a living. Quiet, pleasant life — with nothing remarkable in it bat the fact that he wrote no verses till after his marriage in Sept. 1841, — his wife being the first of his “muses” — of any consequence. Read but few books in general literature and chiefly of the old English Essayists and Poets. . .


Diary: Aug. 28. Begin the preparation of the Am[erican] Hist[orical] Mag[azine] for Graham. Walking up town encounter [Lewis Gaylord] Clark, and go to his house in 22nd St.

Diary: Aug. 24. Met this morning Ripley, Tuckerman, and G. G. F[oster], the latter telling me a hugh story about “Major Byron,” who pretends to be a bastard of “my Lord.” Dine at the Park Hotel, in Newark, where I visit the Kinneys, and by the evening cars come to Philadelphia.


Brooklyn, Sept. 8d, 1849.

Dear Doctor:

You said to me, when I saw you last, that you intended to rewrite the Sketch of Mrs. Lewis, for your new Edition of the “Female Poets.” This I assure you will be most gratifying to her numerous friends and admirers; and, therefore, I am certain, increase the sale of the Book.

It will incur, I think you said, an expense of about $2.60 per page. If you prepare the sketch, and do the proof-reading I think it no more than fair that I should be at the expense of the new Stereotyping. You will please, therefore, let me know, as soon as you can ascertain, the number of pages, and I will send you my check for the amount.

Mrs. L.’s baptismal name is Estelle Anna. Her family preferred the latter for its simplicity; and if they used the former, they always shortened it to Stelle; which led her sometimes to write it S. Anna. Almost as soon as her writings appeared under this signature, an officious Editor wrote it out Sarah; and others copied. She never wrote her name Sarah in her life, — or signed it that to anything she ever wrote. After the manuscript of the “Records,” left her for the printer, written as usual S. Anna, I foolishly wrote out Sarah in full — supposing that Estelle could not be restored to her, and thus it has gone to the great vexation of the mis-named. Is there any remedy, in foot-note or otherwise? . . .

S. D. Lewis.


Diary: Oct. 8. Wrote, hastily, two or three columns [[columns]] about Poe, for the Tribune. [page 253:]

Diary: Oct. 16. Call on Mrs. Lewis, to assort, at her home, Poe’s papers.

Diary: Oct. 17. The affairs of Poe. . .

Diary: Oct. 26. Recommence B[iographicaI] Dictionary. Letter from Wallace. Walk with Willis. Letters from J. Russell Lowell, Whipple, Wallace, Thompson, &c. . .

Diary: Oct. 27. Attended T. L. Clingman, of N. C, to Miss Lynch’s, where I met Willis, Giles, etc.

Diary: Oct. 29. Sat to Elliot.


Philad’a, 29 Oct., 1849.

Dear Sir [W. H. Graham]:

I enclose the notice upon Dr. Griswold for your gallery. You have undoubtedly made a very bad bargain, and the memoir is not worth what you have paid for it. However, I am under the mortifying necessity of avowing that it is the best that I can do. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Jno. H. Meredith.


[Jan., 1849.]

My dear James [Fields]: . . .

Poor Jack Sullivan is gone. . . He was a fellow of infinite humor, as was shown in the suitable obituary I printed upon the occasion of his departure, in the Tribune. . . He was probably the handsomest man in these United States. He was the best raconteur in the world, and of amateur singers, in some half a dozen languages, I don’t know that there is now living any one deserving to be compared to him. As a story-teller (I do not suspect you, James, mind, of ever having told a story!) but as a story-teller nevertheless, I think you were heir-apparent, and inevitably, — recollecting that Frenchman’s supper, you appear to me to be his successor. . .

R. W. Griswold.


San Francisco, Cal., Nov. 15 , 1849.

My dear Dr. Griswold: . . .

Since I last wrote you vast alterations have taken place both as relates to the growth of the city and the state of business. The building! Increase faster, and the demand for house carpenters has caused some of oar young lawyers to take up the hammer and plane, as more money can be made thus, than in smoothing down the rough characters of the town. [page 254:]

But to speculation there is an end for the present. Nearly every land property has fallen. Lots which readily brought $1500 a week ago are now selling for $600. This is owing to the rains which have now really commenced, and are far too full of rheumatism to be encountered by our moneyed speculators. Money is plenty, and as everyone has enough to pass thro’ the winter, business must necessarily pursue but an even way till spring, when no doubt things will take a fresh and higher start.

Order reigns supreme, and I doubt if there is a more quiet city on the other side of the mountains than this. Gambling, I am happy to state, is fast eating itself up. A month or two ago these gamesters alone controlled the money market; but now men of worth and integrity manage such affairs. During the past month one murder has been committed. It speaks well, I think, for the order of a city of 20,000 souls.

Bayard Taylor, who, by the way, is one of the most companionable and interesting individuals extant, left us for the valley of the Sacramento last week. It is a sure thing that this is a genial soil for him. Every one likes him, and you can rely on his statements, as he is not at all addicted to branching off into the whirlpool of imagination.

I have raked up several old Spanish and Latin manuscripts, among which is the lubrications of a San Jose padre, in relation to the discovery and settlement of this part of our continent; also some rare and spicy logic: all of which I shall send home soon. With the highest consideration I am yours truly, and about so,

Frank Moore.


[H. B. Hirst to Griswold.]

I was born on the 23d day of August, 1817. . . I owe my birth to Philadelphia. My father, Thomas Hirst, Esq., was a shipping Merchant. . . He subsequently became unfortunate in business, a fact which, of course, Interfered materially with my early advancement, and will explain some matters which occur hereafter in my notes.

At the age of nine or ten years, with no other education than that received previously at an infant school, I entered the office of my half brother, Wm. L. Hirst, Esqr., since a distinguished member of the Philadelphia Bar. At the age of sixteen I was sent to the Preparatory school of our University, where I remained nine months. I carried off the leading honors in all my classes and was looked upon by my preceptor, the Principal of the Academy, Revd. Saml. W. Crawford, as one of the best boys, if not the best boy [page 255:] in school. At the end of this time my half-brother thinking that I had received a sufficient classical education, recalled me to his office. My classical acquirements since have been the result of my own industry.

My boyhood was enlivened by a passionate fondness for Natural History. I studied Ornithology, Botany, Mineralogy and Conchology very closely — made drawings from Nature in the two first studies — and corresponded and exchanged specimens with some of the most distinguished savans of Europe. During all this time I received no assistance, pecuniary or otherwise, from my half-brother, although all my time was spent in his service, but remained, as I have ever since done, dependent on my own personal exertions for support.

At the age of twenty-one not satisfied to remain any longer with that gentleman I left his office without taking my certificate of studentship, which I obtained from him in 1842 with very great difficulty. In February, 1848, I passed a most honorable examination and was admitted to the Bar. I was tolerably successful even at first, but now I have a very excellent practice.

My first poetical efforts, to the best of my recollections, occurred either in my 21st or 22nd year. They were crude and unmusical and I at once sat down to master the difficulties of English versification. You know how far I have succeeded. At school my scansion of the Latin Poets was always perfect.

I commenced my public contributions in “Graham,” and have since contributed to all the leading magazines and annuals. In 1845 I published my first volume “The Coming of |the Mammoth, the Funeral of Time and other Poems.” Phillips and Sampson, Boston were my publishers. The volume was highly praised both in England and America, and is now out of print. A second edition will be published duriqg the ensuing year. In July, 1848, I published “Endymion. A Tale of Greece,” an epic poem In four cantos, a second edition of which will appear during the present year; the first is almost if not quite exhausted. I have now in the press of the same house “The Penance of Roland, A Romance of the Peine Forte et Dure; Florence, with other Poems.” This volume will appear in a very few weeks.

I am the author of various sporting articles (prose) which appeared in the New York “Spirit of the Times” under the nom de plume of Harry Harkaway. . . I have always been an enthusiastic sportsman both in field and on flood, and am perhaps, one of the best “shots” in the country.







[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 05] (W. M. Griswold, 1898)