Sunday, December 9, 2018

Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackett in Troy, 1824

via Dennis Holzman Antiques
In 1824 Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackitt (Sackett) both signed a petition from the "Ladies of Troy" requesting the Marquis de Lafayette to honor the Troy Female Seminary with a visit during his triumphal U. S. tour.

Thu, Sep 23, 1824 – Page 1 · The Evening Post (New York, New York, New York) ·
This "Sarah Sackitt" is probably Sarah Sackett, the former Sarah H. Pardee and wife of Troy merchant Daniel Sackett (1788-1845). At the time Sarah Sackett belonged to the First Presbyterian Church of Troy; she would join the Second Presbyterian Church in 1827 as a charter member. Harriet Butler is the daughter of the Rev. David Butler, Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. In later sources, both women are named independently in connection with the first publication of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. Harriet Butler copied the poem while visiting the family of Clement C. Moore in New York City, as reported by John T. Parker in the Troy Daily Times on December 23, 1871 ("The 'Visit of St. Nicholas’—Moore's Poem—Some Account of Its History."). Mrs. Sackett brought a copy to editor Orville L. Holley, according to the 1844 letter from publisher Norman Tuttle to Moore, now held by the Museum of the City of New York (54.331.17b).

The reported involvement of these two ladies of Troy as intermediaries is consistent with the 1862 account of the poem's earliest transmission in which T. W. C. Moore describes two stages of copying, first "by a relative of Dr Moores in her Album" and second, "by a friend of hers, from Troy." But until now (so far as I know), Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackett were not linked by name in any known contemporary record. This item nicely confirms their acquaintance and active collaboration with other civic-minded women on a project of mutual interest. Great to have, especially since some published versions of Lafayette's visit to Troy omit the bracketed list of signatories included in the New York Evening Post account.
[The note was signed by the following ladies: Eunice Pawling, Emma Willard, Mary P. Lyman, Olivia Mallory, Sarah Bliss, Ann E. Van Brakle, Sophia Stone, Ann Van Ness, Harriet Butler, Sarah Sackitt, Mary D. Buel, Harriet Vail.]
The most famous name on the 1824 list is that of Emma Willard, founder of the Troy Female Seminary.

General Lafayette accepted the invitation signed by Harriet Butler and Sarah Sackitt or Sackett along with other members of the hastily organized Arrangements Committee. At the Troy Female Seminary Lafayette received a gift copy of Emma Willard's treatise on Improving Female Education and heard two students recite Willard's poem, "La Fayette's Welcome."
The town, he said, seemed to have sprung up by enchantment. And how must this astonishment have increased when he visited this Female University, and beheld so great a collection of young ladies, drinking from the pure fountain of knowledge, whose bright eyes, and healthy countenances, and cheerful demeanor, bespoke them "as sweet as innocent; as innocent as gay; as gay as happy." The visit of the General, to Troy, short as it was, afforded him great satisfaction. He talked much about it, and frequently spoke of his visit to the Seminary, as one of the most interesting and delightful moments of his life.  --New York Evening Post, September 23, 1824. Reprinted in Poulson's American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA) on September 23, 1824; the New York Spectator on September 24, 1824; and the Richmond Enquirer ("Domestic. Journey of the Nation's Guest--in Continuation. Reception at Albany") on October 1, 1824.
Lafayette lingered so long in Troy that he had to cancel scheduled stops in Lansingburgh and Waterford.

Thu, Sep 23, 1824 – Page 1 · The Evening Post (New York, New York, New York) ·

Friday, December 7, 2018

Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore

T. W. C. Moore (1794-1872)
Detail from New York, the interior of the Park Theatre, 1822 by John Searle
 via The New York Public Library Digital Collections
In Who Wrote "The Night Before Christmas"? (page 184, footnote 5) MacDonald P. Jackson backs up his sympathetic treatment of Livingston lore in chapter 20 by quoting Mary Van Deusen on the family tie between Henry Livingston, Jr. and his first cousin Judith Livingston, wife of John Moore.
"Having a connection of both families traveling south to act as a governess in a Moore-connected household isn't that absurd. Henry Livingston's first cousin and next door neighbor was Judith Livingston, who was married to John Moore, the brother of Clement Moore's uncle. In 1815, their daughter Lydia was married to a student of Moore's, Rev. William Henry Hart, and the couple moved to Virginia."
--Mary Van Deusen, "The Livingstons' Governess Story"; quoted by MacDonald P. Jackson in Who Wrote, page 184.
On a "Timeline" of authorship findings, Ms. Van Deusen has placed her discovery of the connection to the Moore family in the year 2001
 and elsewhere explains:
"I knew that Henry's first cousin, Judith Livingston, lived near Henry and was married to John Moore. I just had no idea who John Moore was."
No idea who John Moore was? Melvilliana can help with that: father of T. W. C. Moore (1794-1872), as previously disclosed in the Key witness letter post:
Here I'm repeating the main point of that earlier and rather roundabout post. Besides being the father of Lydia (mother of Frances Livingston Hart Butler), John Moore was also the father of Thomas William Channing Moore: the same T. W. C. Moore who personally interviewed Clement C. Moore in 1862 and got the retired seminary professor and poet, age 82, to write out "The Night Before Christmas" one more time for The New-York Historical Society and posterity.

T. W. C. Moore was a first cousin, once removed of Henry Livingston Jr., since Henry and TWC's mother Judith were first cousins (their fathers Henry Sr. and James were brothers). Livingston cousin T. W. C. Moore maintained close ties with his nieces including Lydia's daughter Frances, who married Rev. Butler's son Clement Moore Butler. (Frances's sister-in-law was Troy resident Harriet Butler, named in later reports as copyist of "A Visit from St Nicholas.") In his 1858 will, T. W. C. Moore thoughtfully and generously remembered many nephews and nieces including four "daughters of my late sister Lydia" whom he appointed as "residuary Legatees." To Frances he gave two thousand dollars and
"all my Italian books & pamphlets - all my loose engravings & prints - also a Landscape (No. 8.) by Dan Huntington." --Will of T. W. C. Moore via [Wills, Vol 0212-0213, 1872-1873 in New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999].

The will reveals also that T. W. C. Moore owned a copy by Daniel Huntington of his mother Judith's 1812 portrait, which he gave to another niece, Elizabeth Elliot Hart Coleman. The original portrait of Judith Livingston Moore was then in the possession of TWC's younger brother Francis Childs Moore, aka F. C. Moore.

As a serious art collector and "genuine antiquarian" (so described in Martha J. Lamb's History of the City of New York), Thomas W. C. Moore made it his business to learn about the provenance of valuable artifacts and to pass along relevant information to archivists. Gifts from T. W. C. Moore to family members, libraries, and museums were typically accompanied by manuscript notes in which he had carefully recorded relevant facts for the historical record.

He made a project of accurately identifying himself and other New Yorkers portrayed in John Searle's painting New York, the interior of the Park Theatre, 1822.

To support another effort of archival preservation, TWC Moore told what he knew about the authorship of "The Night Before Christmas" in his 1862 cover letter to the Librarian of the New-York Historical Society, forwarded with Clement C. Moore's holograph copy. The manuscript Christmas poem and TWC's letter are both extant in the collections of The New-York Historical Society.
Considering T. W. C. Moore's demonstrably close relationship with his niece Frances Livingston Hart Butler, it seems reasonable to suppose that he knew Frances's unmarried sister-in-law Harriet Butler and learned either directly from Harriet or indirectly from Frances exactly how Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" got from Moore's home in Chelsea to Troy. Writing in 1862, Frances's uncle T. W. C. Moore gave credit for copying the poem to two women, without identifying either by name. Later reports name Harriet Butler as one of the original copyists, possibly reflecting unrecoverable oral testimony. The other may have been Sarah Sackett, named by Norman Tuttle, publisher of the Troy Sentinel, as the person who gave a copy of "Visit' in 1823 to editor Orville L. Holley. In 1862, T. W. C. Moore communicated his personal knowledge of the poem's transmission--gained independently of the author, most likely through the family connection he loyally maintained with his niece Frances. For information about the poem's original composition, T. W. C. Moore talked directly with the author.

English majors have no excuse, but some partisans in the Livingston camp will always believe that Henry Livingston, Jr. composed "The Night Before Christmas." For Livingston descendants who might want a more historically grounded holiday hero, I give you "Old Cousin Tom," Thomas William Channing Moore.
"Old Cousin Tom," we were wont to call him. What a stream of memories, sweet childish memories, his name evokes! Can we forget him who never forgot his juvenile kindred, but made glad their hearts, not once but always, when his travels brought him to old Virginia. His portrait appears in the picture of the interior of the Park Theatre in the History of New York City, in the library of the Penn. Hist. Society. He spent much time in genealogical research and was a steadfast friend of Fitz-Greene HALLECK. Peace to his ashes! --David Moore Hall, Six centuries of the Moores of Fawley, Berkshire, England and their descendants amid the titled and untitled aristocracy of Great Britain and America (Richmond, Virginia, 1904) via RootsWeb
Your Cousin Tom not only coaxed one more holograph copy of "The Night Before Christmas" from its author Clement C. Moore, he also solved the longstanding mystery of its transmission. Cousin Tom bequeathed to all of us the inside story of how "The Night Before Christmas" found its way to the Troy Sentinel, sharing details personally known to him through close ties to the family of his beloved niece Frances Livingston Hart Butler. Thus, no need for the "Livingston Governess" theory of transmission, whereby a hypothetical governess supposedly brought a hypothetical manuscript copy of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" from Poughkeepsie to Richmond. Cousin Tom himself made frequent trips south to visit kinfolk in Old Virginia. With intimate connections to Poughkeepsie (where his cousin Cornelia Billings had married Randall S. Street, a close friend of Henry Livingston, Jr; their son William I. Street formally witnessed T. W. C. Moore's 1858 will) and Manhattan, Cousin Tom could have told his adoring Richmond relatives all about "The Night Before Christmas" and who wrote it.

Here again is the earliest known Livingston witness letter, decisively affirming Clement C. Moore's authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka "The Night Before Christmas." Addressed to the Librarian of the Historical Society, the letter from T. W. C. Moore was first published in The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin 2.4 (January 1919) pages 111-115.

73 East 12th St.
New York, March 15th 1862.
Geo. H. Moore Esqr
Librarian of The New-York Historical Society:
Dear Sir:
I have the pleasure to inform you that Doctor Clement C. Moore has been so kind as to comply with my request (made at your suggestion) to furnish, for the Archives of our Society, an Autograph Copy of his justly celebrated "Visit from St. Nicholas." I now enclose it to you.—

I hardly need call your attention to the distinctness and beauty of his hand writing:—very remarkable, considering his advanced age, (he completed his 82d year in July last) and his much impaired eye sight.

These lines were composed for his two daughters, as a Christmas present, about 40 years ago.—They were copied by a relative of Dr. Moores in her Album, from which a copy was made by a friend of hers, from Troy, and, much to the surprise of the Author, were published (for the first time) in a Newspaper of that city.—

In an interview that I had yesterday with Dr. Moore, he told me that a portly, rubicund, Dutchman, living in the neighbourhood of his fathers country seat, Chelsea, suggested to him the idea of making St. Nicholas the hero of this "Christmas piece" for his children.
I remain, very resp[ectfull]y Your ob[edien]t s[ervan]t

T. W. C. Moore

Listed in WorldCat from the library catalog of the New-York Historical Society as A Visit from St. Nicholas: Holograph; currently held in Mss Collection, BV Moore, Clement, Non-circulating.
Holograph manuscript, dated March 13, 1862, of Clement C. Moore's "A visit from St. Nicholas," originally composed ca. 1822 and written out by the author on this occasion at the suggestion of librarian George H. Moore of the New-York Historical who wished to add a holograph copy of the poem to the Society's library collection. The three page manuscript is accompanied by a cover letter addressed to George Moore by Thomas W. C. Moore presenting the enclosed manuscript and briefly discussing the circumstances of the poem's original composition forty years earlier. --New-York Historical Society, catalog summary via BobCat 
Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867) by Henry Inman
New-York Historical Society - Bequest of Thomas W. C. Moore
Related posts:
  • Key witness letter

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Early publisher's notices of Typee, reprinted in Virginia by Edgar Snowden

Wiley & Putnam's Literary News-Letter (March 1846) page 17
via HathiTrust Digital Library
Shown below, two Virginia items announce the first British and American editions of Melville's Typee. Both notices are naturally favorable, being reprinted from Wiley & Putnam's Literary News-Letter in one column of the Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser on March 7, 1846; found at GenealogyBank among articles added "within 1 month."

The Gazette was an important Whig newspaper then owned and edited by Edgar Snowden (1810-1875). In the 1844 presidential campaign, Snowden had campaigned hard for Henry Clay, against Gansevoort Melville's man. Polk was now President, but Snowden did not hold it against Gansevoort's literary brother.

Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser - March 7, 1846
via GenealogyBank
Mr. Murray will bring out simultaneously with the New York edition, a curious and very interesting book, called "Typee; or A Peep at Polynesian Life," being a narrative of a residence at the Marquesas, by Herman Melville, of New York. This is no fiction, but a veritable picture of life among the cannibals, from actual observation; and the narrative is worthy of Robinson Crusoe in style and in interest, with the additional advantage of being a simple record of facts...
... In the “Library of American Books,” a work of great novelty will be immediately issued—simultaneously with its publication by Murray, in London—entitled “TYPEE: a Peep at Polynesian Life; during a Four Months' Residence in a valley of the Marquesas, with notices of the French occupation of Tahiti and the provisional cession of the Sandwich Islands to Lord Paulett. By HERMAN MELVILLE.”
Again, Snowden did not write the friendly notices but only copied them along with other items of "Literary Intelligence" including mentions of "Hood's Serious Poems" and Hawthorne's forthcoming "Mosses from an Old Manse." So far, however, I have not found another verbatim reprinting of the particular news about Herman Melville's first book in the March 1846 number of Wiley & Putnam's Literary News-Letter. Alright, nearly verbatim. In copying the notice of Murray's London edition, the Gazette omitted the interesting reference by the original writer to "the one hundred pages I have read."

Harold W. Hurst calls Edgar Snowden "a serious literary critic" in Alexandria on the Potomac: The Portrait of an Antebellum Community (University Press of America, 1991), page 77:
The Gazette also lent enthusiastic support to the city's artistic and intellectual endeavors. No activity at the Library Society or Lyceum was too insignificant to warrant its patronage. The paper's columns carried sermons, poems, book reviews, and drama criticism alongside its lengthy reports of shipping, railroad, and industrial activities. Snowden was, indeed, a serious literary critic who devoted considerable space to reviews of works by Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, Robert Burns and other authors.
The 1954 bio by Carrol H. Quenzel is scarce, but accessible online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Trial Before Christmas

In this 2014 mock trial, attorney Jack Casey opened for the Livingston side with splendid readings from Frost, Chaucer, and Bob Dylan.

Moore's lawyer E. Stewart Jones Jr. said many fine things as well, including this at 21:30:
"Mr Casey has spent so much time in his legal career, in Albany with the state legislature, that he's mastered the art of historical revision."
Elvis showed up, and Santas with saxes. Alas, the evidence of Moore's published letter to the editor of the New York American (March 1, 1844) was not available at the time of this trial. (Found in January 2017, in microfilm of the New-York American at NYPL: *ZY 86-140 Reel 17, Mar 1-Dec 28, 1844). In this 1844 letter Moore reveals that he personally gave "A Visit from St Nicholas" with several other poems to the publisher of The New-York Book of Poetry in 1837. Here it is again, for the record.

New York American - March 1, 1844
LINES TO ST. NICHOLAS.--The following note from our friend C. C. Moore, the author of those lines which every child among us delights to hear, about Christmas, and which parents with not less delight recite, brings to our notice, one of the boldest acts of plagiarism of which we have any recollection. We ask the National Intelligencer to have the goodness to insert Mr. Moore's note--and if possible to elucidate the mistake, if such it be, or fraud attempted in respect of such well known lines. 
New York, Feb. 27, 1844 
Dear Sir--My attention was, a few days ago, directed to the following communication, which appears in the National Intelligencer of the 25th of December last.
"Washington, Dec. 22d, 1843.

The enclosed lines were written by Joseph Wood, artist, for the National Intelligencer, and published in that paper in 1827 or 1828, as you may perceive from your files. By republishing them, as the composition of Mr. Wood you will gratify one who has now few sources of pleasure left. Perhaps you may comply with this request, if it be only for 'auld lang syne.'" 
The above is printed immediately over some lines, describing a visit from St. Nicholas, which I wrote many years ago, I think somewhere between 1823 and 1824, not for publication, but to amuse my children. They, however, found their way, to my great surprise, in the Troy Sentinel: nor did I know, until lately, how they got there. When "The New York Book" was about to be published, I was applied to for some contribution to the work. Accordingly, I gave the publisher several pieces, among which was the "Visit from St. Nicholas." It was printed under my name, and has frequently since been republished, in your paper among others, with my name attached to it.  
Under these circumstances, I feel it incumbent on me not to remain silent, while so bold a claim, as the above quoted, is laid to my literary property, however small the intrinsic value of that property may be. 
The New York Book was published in 1827 [1837]. 
Yours, truly and respectfully,   
Chas. King, Esq.
Related posts:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Stephen Nissenbaum on The Battle For Christmas

Here's a holiday gem from two years back, via Mt. Mansfield Community TV:
"A presentation by Stephen Nissenbaum sponsored by the Underhill Historical Society at the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library on 12-7-2016."
The Battle for Christmas from Mt. Mansfield Community TV on Vimeo.

At 41:10:
Now if I can get back quickly to the poem "The Night Before Christmas": it is, in a very strange way, about a household invasion. I mean, because this guy comes in uninvited. He's doing in fact exactly what Wassailers would threaten to do. Coming uninvited into your house.

And if you think about the way the poem is structured, the whole first part of it is about the narrator—the narrator’s surprise at being awakened out of bed—lots of noise, lots of bright lights. In this reading of the poem the key line is that when St. Nicholas finally appears
A wink of his eye and a [twist] of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread….
That whole first part of the poem is about the fear, the anxiety the narrator seems to have. And what he learns, and this is the brilliance of the poem, and really of the new ritual, is that this household invader is coming to give rather than to take. Moore wrote this I think as part of this attempt to transform the whole set of cultural rituals in ways that both kept the poor out and retained most of the structure of the older rituals.
As well known in these parts Professor Nissenbaum is the distinguished author of
and online, the great essay at Common-Place
  • There Arose Such a Clatter: Who Really Wrote “The Night before Christmas”? (And Why Does It Matter?) 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Ahab Beckons: Reserve your Bethel spot & Reader slot!

Ahab Beckons: Reserve your Bethel spot & Reader slot!: Registration is open for readers at the Moby-Dick Marathon, the Portuguese Marathon, and the Children's Marathon. You can also enter...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Omoo in Hudson, New York

This brief notice of Melville's Omoo appeared on May 6, 1847 in The Columbia Washingtonian, a weekly newspaper published in Hudson, New York by the local Temperance society and still edited by Warren Rockwell (1787-1866). "May 5" on the masthead is an error for May 6, a Thursday.

OMOO: a Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas. By Herman Melville, author of "Typee." Harper & Brothers, publishers.

This is an interesting and valuable work, in two volumes. It is a narrative of the adventures of the author among the Islands of the South Seas, during a whaling voyage and a residence of three months on the Islands of Tahiti and Imeo. For Sale at Wynkoop's.  --Columbia Washingtonian - May 6, 1847 via NYS Historic Newspapers