Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fourth of July toasts in Poughkeepsie, 1826

 In Poughkeepsie, the day was celebrated with a zeal and hilarity which has never been exceeded. Col. H. A. Livingston read the Declaration. The oration was pronounced by Stephen Cleveland., esq. Col. Livingston presided at the feast, assisted by Clapp Raymond, Joseph Harris, John De La Veigne, John S. Myers and John W. Oakley, esqrs. --Albany Argus, July 18, 1826
Henry Alexander Livingston (1776-1849) aka "Colonel Livingston" of Poughkeepsie was the son of Henry Livingston, Jr's older and much better known brother John Henry Livingston. Dutchess County historian Helen Wilkinson Reynolds well describes Henry A. Livingston as  "a leading citizen of Poughkeepsie for approximately half a century." If you needed a parade marshal or banquet host, Col. Livingston was your man. When Lafayette landed in Poughkeepsie, Col. Henry A. Livingston made the appropriate welcome speech. Colonel Livingston routinely officiated at Fourth of July celebrations. In 1824 the Poughkeepsie Journal (July 7, 1824) criticized the noise and fireworks that year as ridiculously and dangerously excessive. But two years later a notably grand celebration took place on July 4, 1826--the half-centennial anniversary of American independence. Colonel Henry A. Livingston naturally served as Chairman on the Committee of Arrangements. As in 1824, Col. Livingston had the honor of reading the Declaration of Independence. In between the parade and fireworks, Col. Livingston presided over the dinner and formal toasts which in this extra-special instance were "accompanied by the discharge of cannon, music from the band, and occasional songs."

Some of the toasts were evidently composed by Col. Livingston's uncle Henry Livingston Jr., then 77 years old. On the marvelous Henry Livingston website, Mary S. Van Deusen has transcribed some Scraps from 4th of July toasts which survive in manuscript (on "Livingston Microfilm" at the New York Public Library, exact location not specified). Van Deusen identifies the handwriting as that of Henry Livingston, Jr. Some years earlier, Col. Livingston's uncle Henry had expressed interest in regional 4th of July plans, in a letter to his son-in-law Sidney Breese dated July 2, 1820.
"It appears the 4th of July is to be celebrated in a novel stile in the land of your nativity. All the boats of the canal are to move in divisions from Utica, Whitesboro, Rome &ct finally, assembling at Salina, then display the Ensigns of festivity & Keep it up"
It's hard to tell from the images as reconfigured on the Henry Livingston Jr site, but the letter "R" that appears below many of the toasts in manuscript may be unrelated to Livingston's alleged pseudonym. Repeated assertions of authorship here do not seem necessary or even germane to the process of drafting suitable toasts. Presumably Uncle Henry had little reason to adopt a persona or disguise his identity, which would have been perfectly obvious to his own nephew and all concerned. In the context of toasts to be delivered at a formal dinner banquet, in this case for an unusually elaborate celebration of the "National Jubilee" in 1826, "R" might refer to a planned "Response" of some kind, either in the form of a brief speech, music, song, or--as indicated in the advertised program--a cannon blast.
"During the dinner and at the several toasts, a discharge of Artillery."  Poughkeepsie Journal, June 28, 1826.
If any surname absolutely had to be associated with the letter "R," we now have that of Clapp Raymond, Col. Livingston's first-named Vice President on the 1826 Committee of Arrangements.

Henry's nephew Colonel Henry A. Livingston apparently did need help with the job of composing toasts with flair. In 1830 Col. Livingston recycled one of his uncle's compositions, the 1826 toast to Indians and their "inextinguishable love of liberty."

· Wed, Jul 7, 1830 – Page 2 · Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, New York) ·
By Col. HENRY A. LIVINGSTON. The Aborigines of this country--Now rapidly receding from existence--May we who now possess their lakes and their rivers, their mountains and their vallies, inherit at least one of their virtues, an inextinguishable love of liberty.
 --Poughkeepsie Journal, July 7, 1830
The same toast to "Aborigines" had been proposed at the 4th of July dinner in 1826. Two of the seven manuscript toasts transcribed on the Henry Livingston site made it into the local newspaper: one to "The aborigines of this country" and the other to "The army & navy of the Union," reported in print as "The Army and Navy of the United States." From the Poughkeepsie Journal, July 12, 1826:


The Fiftieth Anniversary of American Independence was celebrated in this village in the manner heretofore published by the Committee of Arrangements, and with a zeal and hilarity never exceeded. The dawn of day was announced by a discharge of cannon; at sunrise a national salute was fired and the bells rung. At noon the salute was repeated, and the grand procession was formed under the direction of the Marshalls of the day, escorted by all the uniform companies of the village, with the band from Freedom. The procession passed through our principal street to the Church, where the exercises of the day were performed accompanied by music from the choir and band. A fervent address to the throne of Grace was offered by the Rev. Mr. Cuyler. The Declaration of Independence was eloquently read by Col. Livingston. The appropriate and excellent oration delivered by Stephen Cleveland, Esq. obtained universal approbation, and awakened in the bosoms of the audience emotions congenial to the patriotic sentiments of an address, so ably and so elegantly adapted to the occasion and the theme. The concluding benediction was invoked by the Rev. Dr. Reed.
The procession then again formed and passing through several streets repaired to the Hotel where a dinner was provided by Capt. Myer.

Col. Livingston presided at the table assisted by Clapp Raymond, Joseph Harris, John Delavergne, John S. Myers and John W. Oakley, Esquires as Vice Presidents, and the following toasts were drank, accompanied by the discharge of cannon, music from the band, and occasional songs.

The Day--Half a century ago thousands hailed its birth, millions now join in celebrating the Jubilee and tens of millions in future ages, will plaudit its recurrence.

The Worthies--Who fifty years since signed the charter of our independence and for the support of their declaration pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour.

The Memory of Washington--Like the vast pyramids of Egypt, stands towering in the pages of history, uninjured by the waste and lapse of time.

The American Hercules--Fifty years ago, although an infant in the cradle, strangled the viper that assailed him; he is now in the vigor of youth, fond of peace, but will evade no honorable conflict.

The President and Vice President of the United States of America.

The Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the state of New York.

Our beloved country--May it continue to be the land of civil liberty and independence, until century on century shall roll away, and the last Archangel's trump shall sound.

The Militia--Success to that government which prefers armed citizens, to armed slaves.

The Army and Navy of the United States--When the occasion occurs, may the former never lack a Washington, a Fayette, or a Greene, nor the latter a Perry, McDonnough, or a Bainbridge. 
The Aborigines of this country now rapidly receding from existence--May we who possess their lakes, and their rivers, their mountains and their valleys, inherit at least one of their virtues--an inextinguishable love of liberty.

The river of our hearts--The magnificent Hudson has reently commingled embraces with the lakes of the west, and of the north, and at an early period, may she as cordially unite with her sister, the Delaware on the west.

May peace be within our gates, plenty within our dwellings, patriotism in our rulers, truth in our statesmen, piety in our preachers, virtue in our senators, and industry and honesty in the people, until time shall be no more.

The Fair Daughters of America.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

John Rudolph Sutermeister, alias "R."

From the New York Commercial Advertiser, March 21, 1823; found in the New York Newspaper Archives at GenealogyBank:
New York Commercial Advertiser - March 21, 1823.



Adieu to thee, my lonely lyre!
   Adieu the melody of song,
That echo'd from thy strings of fire
   When swept the bard thy chords along!
Adieu to thee!--adieu to thee!
   This is thy last and lonely lay,
And hope hath not a joy for me,
   Now that the strain is hush'd for aye!

I hang thee on the willow tree
   Whose branches kiss the murm'ring stream;
And morn's bright sun may shed on thee
   Her wand'ring tints and wizard beam.
The zephyr's wings--the zephyr's wings
   May frolic o'er thy chords in vain;
But never o'er thy sounding strings
   The minstrel's hand shall sweep again!

But, ah, if e'er thy broken strings
   The wand'ring minstrel's eye arrest,
Then may some sprite, with viewless wings,
   Bear this sad burthen to his breast:--
"He lov'd the lyre--he lov'd the lyre,
   "Whose broken strings neglected lie;
"And, O, it was his fond desire
   "Beside his cherish'd lyre to die!"

"He often woke in former day
   "The midnight song in lonely glade;
"And often pli'd, when morn was grey,
   "The pleas'd and plaintive serenade.
"But never more--ah, never more
   "The bard shall wake the midnight strain,
"Or, like the lark, in transport pour
   "His early morning hymn again!"

"Upon the lone and willow tree
   "Neglected hangs his broken lyre;
"Tho' fond to hallow'd memory,
   "He deem'd its sounding strings of fire.
"He dropp'd the tear--he dropp'd the tear,
   "And looked toward the heaven of blue--
"The lonely hour he swept with fear
   "To his lost lyre, his long adieu!"

R. [John Rudolph Sutermeister]
Rhinebeck, March 20, 1823  --New York Commercial Advertiser, March 21, 1823; reprinted in the New York Spectator, there also attributed to "R."
From the memorial article "John Rudoloph Sutermeister" signed "C." in The New York Mirror for September 1, 1827:
It was also about this period, that he commenced the publication of his early pieces in the “Northern Whig,” published at Hudson, with the signature of “R.” This was the same print in which Mr. James G. Brooks gave to the public the first happy numbers of “Florio;” and many of the effusions of “R.” bore a good comparison with those finished pictures which the genius of the former gentleman often furnished for its columns.
As observed last year in the post on Cadillacs and ragged Fords, one dirty job of scholarship on poems by Henry Livingston, Jr. would be
weeding out newspaper and magazine contributions by other writers who also signed their contributions "R."
This item will help, at least with respect to identifying the author of poems signed "R." in the early 1820's. According to "C." in The New York Mirror for September 1, 1827, John Rudolph Sutermeister (1803-1826) published poetry over the signature of "R" (for Rudolph?) in New York newspapers, specifically the Hudson Northern Whig and the New York Commercial Advertiser. Hudson is about forty miles north of Poughkeepsie where Henry Livingston, Jr. is thought to have submitted a few pieces of poetry and prose over the same initial, "R." Most of the work submitted by "R." and attributed to Livingston was published in the previous century, before Sutermeister was born.

From The New York Mirror for September 1, 1827:
JOHN RUDOLPH SUTERMEISTER, to whose virtues and merit this faint tribute of affectionate remembrance is recorded, was born in the island of Curracoa, in the West-Indies, to which place his father, John Henry Sutermeister, Esq. removed, it is believed, from Geneva in Switzerland, his native residence.—A few of the first years of his life were spent in the West-Indies; and at the age of eight years, his father emigrated with all his family to America. After a brief residence in New-York, they removed to Rhinebeck, Dutchess county. He was there placed in the family of the Rev. Dr. Quitman, of the Lutheran church, where, at an early age, he commenced the study of the languages. 
With a view of settling some affairs relative to his estates in the West-Indies, which were very considerable, his father returned with all his family, save young Sutermeister, to Curracoa; and during that time, while yet under the care of the Rev. Dr. Quitman, he was sent to the seminary at Cooperstown, then under the supervision and charge, as the writer believes, of that exalted scholar, the Rev. Ernest Lewis Hazelius. Here he devoted himself closely to his studies, and remained for some years. 
His situation, at this time, was strikingly peculiar. In a foreign and a strange land—without one relative in America—attending a seminary of learning, where, on account of his retiring disposition, he formed few acquaintances;—and, at an age when all our emotions, whether of joy or sorrow, are the most pungent, although not the most lasting. And the circumstances with which he here found himself surrounded, were of all others the most calculated to inspire the latter sensation. It was at this place, toward the close of his stay, that he first tuned his youthful lyre, by his own midnight lamp. It was here, in his wanderings on the romantic banks of the beautiful Otsego, amidst the striking scenes so truly and happily described in the “Pioneers,” that his early fancy went forth upon glittering and buoyant wing, to cull the flowers of pure and holy thoughts, in the quiet and peaceful haunts of nature. With a mind acutely open to all its beauties, to use his own beautiful and expressive language 
“He woke his lyre on midnight's ear—
“And o'er its chords his fingers strayed,
“Till passing sorrow paused to hear
“The rapt and plaintive serenade "
—often did his young but eloquent spirit weave his musings into song, which would have done the highest honour to maturer years; and to which thousands who would essay to commune with Apollo, may never attain. 
During eight or nine years which his father spent in the West-Indies, (and in which time it is believed his mother died,) young Sutermeister was pursuing his studies, alternately at Rhinebeck, and Hartwick Seminary, in Otsego county. When his bereaved father returned to Rhinebeck with his remaining family, young Mr. S. commenced the study of the law, in the office of Francis A. Livingston, Esq. of that village. It was also about this period, that he commenced the publication of his early pieces in the “Northern Whig,” published at Hudson, with the signature of “R.” This was the same print in which Mr. James G. Brooks gave to the public the first happy numbers of “Florio;” and many of the effusions of “R.” bore a good comparison with those finished pictures which the genius of the former gentleman often furnished for its columns. About a year after this time, several pieces made their appearance in the “Commercial Advertiser,” and other New-York evening papers, with the same signature. They all bore the impress of high and lofty genius, mingled with a soft and touching melancholy and pensiveness, which, did it not belong to his early history in some wise, and other circumstances which occurred about this period, might be thought to have been added with the idea of producing effect to his compositions. Soon after, while prosecuting his studies, he began a correspondence with the “New-York Evening Post.” To the reader of that admirable paper, with his own name, he has given many a line of true poetic inspiration. From these and others, in a subsequent review, we purpose making a few extracts. Who has not felt a sadder throb at his heart, while reading his beautiful and pathetic “Lament,” or “Faded Hours ?” They are the genuine “sparklings of Helicon,” breathing in elegant, yet melancholy numbers, the sweetness of a harp, whose notes will be long remembered. 
Early in the spring of 1824, he was admitted to practice at the bar of this state—and about which time his father removed to an estate near Kingston, Ulster county. At that period he visited the city of New-York, and, while here, wrote the poem for the celebration of the birth of Linnaeus, at Flushing, Long-Island. In June, 1824, he made a tour of the western part of the state, with the intent to fix on a suitable place for the prosecution of his profession. In the same month he arrived at Syracuse, Onondaga county, and commenced the practice of the law in that village. It was there that the writer of this article first enjoyed the pleasure of his acquaintance and friendship:—and he looks back to the many bright and hallowed hours which he has had the happiness to spend in his society, as upon 
"Spots of earth, where angel-feet have stept."
As affirmed in the New York Mirror memorial, John Rudolph Sutermeister wrote the poem titled "Mind," published in The New-York Review for May 1826 over the initials "J. R. S."

Reprinted in the Baltimore American Farmer (August 13, 1824), Sutermeister's "Ode to Linnaeus" appears in the official published account of the Celebration at Flushing, of the Birthday of Linnaeus (New York Statesman, 1824).

Related posts:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Alias Nasal Twistification: The News-Boy's Vision, 1812

Elisha Williams (1773-1833) via Historic Gravestones of Columbia County NY
The Northern Whig was a Federalist newspaper published in Hudson, New York, and edited by Francis Stebbins. A few chronicles have young William Leete Stone taking over for a few years in 1811, while the Cyclop√¶dia of American Literature and other literary histories put Stone's arrival in Hudson later, after his stint c. 1814 as editor of the Herkimer American. (Later and more famously, Stone edited the New York Commercial Advertiser.) On this point the reliable Duyckincks are vindicated by the following announcement dated October 25, 1814 and published in the Northern Whig on October 25, 1814. William L. Stone would become the new editor and proprietor of the Northern Whig, beginning on the first day of the new year 1815.

Northern Whig - November 1, 1814

Under Stebbins, as richly detailed in Columbia Rising by John L. Brooke (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), the Northern Whig replaced the old Balance, and Columbia Repository as chief antagonist of the Bee, the Democratic paper in Hudson edited until 1809 by Charles Holt, and after that by Samuel W. Clark. For many years in the Hudson Balance and Wasp, "Junior Editor" Harry Croswell (often over the pseudonym "Robert Rusticoat") waged war on Holt and Holt's Bee, and on Isaac Mitchell and Mitchell's Political Barometer down in Poughkeepsie. "The News-Boy's Vision of the Year 1812" appeared on the front page of the Northern Whig for January 6, 1812. By then Croswell had left town for Albany. There, before being baptized in the Episcopal Church, Croswell published a contrite and well-received farewell to the newspaper wars ("H. Croswell's Valedictory, Hudson Bee, January 21, 1812; reprinted from the Albany Balance, December 24, 1811). Croswell's former supporters Elisha Williams, Jacob R. Van Rensselaer, and William W. Van Ness ("the troika of the Columbia Junto" as Brooke calls them in Columbia Rising) carried on in Hudson, battling Demos until a banking scandal brought them down early in the next decade. Not surprisingly then, the verse "Vision" reflects the intensely partisan politics of the time and place.

At the Free Republic forum, mairdie wants to claim the 1812 "Vision" for Henry Livingston, Jr. It's not hard to see why. Advocates for Livingston's authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" sorely need a poem by Henry with some hint of the vocabulary and magic of Moore's Christmas classic. Unfortunately there is none, as demonstrated in earlier Melvilliana posts on Livingston's Deal-Breakers and Moore's Eight Great Favorite Expressions. If somehow appropriated as Henry's, the 1812 "Vision" would conveniently supply the key word vision (as of sugarplums in the Christmas poem) and five other Moore favorites: should, would, dread, ere, and best of all, six similes using like. The 1812 "Newsboy's Vision" contains six of Moore's great eight in one poem. Plus, "Vision" depicts an imaginary home invasion by an elvish "spright" that exemplifies the intersection of the mundane and marvelous--in other words, the essence of "The Night Before Christmas" storyline that Livingston never offers anywhere in any poem. (Not that Clement C. Moore had anything to do with the 1812 "Vision" either, although as expressed in A Sketch of our Political Condition, Moore's political views at the time were similarly opposed to Jeffersonian ideals, alert to the perceived moral evils of French influence on democratic politics, and hostile to American "worshippers" of Napoleon.)

Contentedly farming and surveying in Poughkeepsie, Major Livingston had no motive to write the 1812 "Vision," and no documented opportunity. Besides the void of any historical evidence linking him to the Northern Whig and the decade of contentious party politics in Hudson from 1802 to 1812, the concentration of words in "Vision" that Livingston rarely used elsewhere, effectively excludes him as a plausible candidate for its authorship. As a Revolutionary War veteran and ally of the Clinton family, Major Livingston was not the man to blast poor Holt as the "tool of De Witt." Or spit in the face of a little person, especially a countryman of Lafayette. On the other hand, the impressively high percentages of shared rhymes, common words and phonemes that mairdie also cites at Free Republic ironically expose one huge flaw in the recently published study by MacDonald P. Jackson:
Style and Authorship in a Classic of Popular Culture: Henry Livingston and The Night Before Christmas; Style 51.4 (2017): 482-50.
By way of explaining his methods for selecting non-Livingston poems to compare with known Livingston poems, Jackson offers vague criteria for inclusion and no criteria for exclusion. Clear and objective principles of exclusion here are essential: otherwise, a biased researcher might (consciously or unconsciously) reject texts that seem difficult to discriminate from Livingston's and that therefore, if included, might yield dramatically different test results from those presented by Jackson. Regarding the main prize, rejection of Rebuses and other poems that share high-frequency words with A Visit from St Nicholas aka The Night Before Christmas, especially top-ten words like a, and, I, and all, could statistically force assignment of the commonest, highest frequency words to the category of Livingston-favored words, unfairly skewing the test results. An Appendix lists the Non-Livingston poems selected (by Mary Van Deusen, as Jackson acknowledges) for comparison, leaving readers to guess what poems were excluded from consideration, how many, and why. As indicated in "Appendix 1: Non-Livingston Corpus" on page 493, Jackson's test sample included two 1819 poems from the Northern Whig: "Sylph" by "Florio" and "To Florio." Why those two? And why not others, for instance the 1812 "Vision"? Or the 1819 Address of the Carrier of the Weekly Visiter, with Santa and sugar plums? And "Florio" alias James Gordon Brooks (not identified by Jackson) had many original poems published in the Northern Whig that could have been selected for testing. Claverack native and Union College grad James Gordon Brooks aka Florio also wrote the 1820 Carrier Address for the Northern Whig, published on New Year's Day--another appealing work, not selected for testing. According to George and Evert Duyckinck Brooks began writing and publishing poetry over the pseudonym "Florio" in Poughkeepsie--before 1823, when he was supposed by be studying law. Like the Hudson Whig, Livingston's local paper the Poughkeepsie Journal printed many more poems to choose from. Which extant poems in Livingston's hometown newspapers did Jackson exclude from consideration, and why?

Look, here's the thing: whether considered as politics or poetry, the "News-Boy's Vision" is more than a collection of words and sounds. It ain't exactly Shakespeare, but the poem means something, or at least tries to. Its rhetoric has particular motives and targets. The objects of abuse in "Vision" are very specific and, more often than not, identifiable--especially with the help of the "explanatory notes" that accompanied it in the same issue of the Northern Whig, courtesy of editor Francis Stebbins. To be at all credible, any investigation into authorship of the poem will require due consideration of the literal meaning of the text, and the most obvious political and cultural contexts.

Taking the form of a conventional New Year's address (presented by the local newspaper carrier in hopes of generous holiday tips), the 1812 "Vision" in the Northern Whig looked back as well as forward. Indeed, this one fixates on old fights with rival editors, rather than news of the world during the previous year. The polemic burden of the Northern Whig has not changed much since 1809 when it happily printed the harangue of "An American" against corrupting "foreign," specifically "French" influence, roasting "democratic editors" in particular as "servile tools" of France under Napoléon Bonaparte.
French Influence--French Tories.--
There never was a country so cursed by foreign influence, as is this unfortunate republic. The great body of democratic editors are as completely the servile tools of France, as the wretches who set types in France. --Northern Whig, July 18, 1809.
The preoccupation with French influence on Democrats explains why the elf or sprite in the news-boy's vision turns out to be an imposter: not NEW-YEAR, traditionally personified as a little child, but a devilish French dwarf instead. Those "nine empty purses" brandished by the French dwarf signify foreign payments allegedly accepted by corrupt Demos--just what the Northern Whig was always railing about. The last object of scorn in the 1812 "Vision" is Charles Holt, derided as "Captain Stargazer." Old news again, since Holt had left Hudson years before to start up a new Democratic newspaper (The Columbian) in New York City. Holt was being lampooned in verse as Captain Stargazer way back in 1804, at the instigation of Harry Croswell in the old Hudson Balance ("To Captain Stargazer" by "Robert Rusticoat," June 5, 1804).

The anonymous versifier's nightmare "vision" thus rehearses nearly a decade of partisan battles between Federalists and Democrats (aka Anti-Federalists aka Republicans) in Hudson. The "Vision" appeared on the front page of the Northern Whig for Monday, January 6, 1812, alongside explanatory notes "by the editor." Evidently the reigning editor regarded some of the hits as obscure enough to require explication. The "Vision" was dated January 1st and attributed only to the "Northern Whig Office." So whoever wrote it, the poem emanates from the editorial office of the Northern Whig. I can't quite decide at the moment if these explanatory notes reveal the editor and author of the poem to be one person, or if the notes rather imply two or more hands, that of Francis Stebbins as editor and the anonymous composer or composers whose verses needed explicating.

In any case. Sixty-four years old in 1812, Henry Livingston, Jr. of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County was too genial a soul, and too detached from the brawling among Columbia county editors and politicos to have conspired with them on "The News-Boy's Vision." Along with Stebbins, the likeliest perps belonged to the rising generation: Elisha Williams and his brother-in-law Thomas P. Grosvenor, William W. Van Ness, and James Van Derpoel. The one Carrier Address definitely attributable to Henry Livingston, Jr. had been published 25 years before in the Poughkeepsie Journal. That 1787 holiday address sounds far far far removed in tone from the Whig Newsboy's bitter "Vision," published a quarter-century later. Friends of Livingston should be glad to cherish the genuinely blithe spirit of the one 1787 Carrier Address in Livingston's manuscript book, and leave the mean 1812 "Vision" to Francis Stebbins and/or the Columbia Junto who conceived it.





January 1, 1812
   GOOD Morning dear patrons—I've come do ye see,
With bowing and singing to levy a fee,
I'll give you good verse—and believe me sincere,
When I wish you long life—and a happy New-Year.
News-Boys just like Lawyers, will promise you fair,
They'll give, for your money, their lingo so rare—
And I, (lawyer like) though the best of the throng,
"Full costs" mean to "charge" for my excellent song.
    Three days had I labour'd—and in verbage sublime,
    I'd scribbled nine sheets—but the Devil a rhyme
Would appear in the whole—so all in a huff,
I sent to the flames a whole volume of stuff,
As smooth, at the least, as that lullaby trash,
Which Osander has publish'd—"to compass the cash."
    Having burnt myself out—last night much oppress'd,
I went to my garret and soon was at rest;
Not thinking, at all, that Hobgoblins or Elves
'Bout poor little NEWS-BOYS would trouble themselves;
Or dreaming that fate had a vision design'd
To enliven my muse and enlighten my mind.
The clock sounded twelve—And awaked by the chime,
I raised up my head—and beheld FATHER TIME
Approaching my bed through the dusk of the night;
In one hand his scythe—in the other a SPRIGHT!!!
Whom leading right to me—He spoke with a leer:
"My Lads be you friends—this is little NEW-YEAR!
"And this is YOUNG WHIG!! Now walk hand in hand
"Stick close to each other—in unity stand—
"And then, though from Clermont again shall appear,
"A Juror like Capron, you've nothing to fear:
"For when he beholds this young Spright at your side,
"Like Peter the honest from court you shall glide—
"Your pocket unpick'd—nor two hundred expose,
"To purchase some salve for an editor's nose—
"And then, though brave Matty his bristles should rear,
"And the honest old Sheriff in rage should appear—
"Though all the fell tribe who compose the wise club
"Where Dayton presides and holds forth to his mob,
"Should like savages yell—yet feel no alarm,
"This honest young spright will protect you from harm.
"These Gentry all worship little NEW-YEAR'S gold wand
"And its sight will unnerve every Democrats hand;
"And thus LITTLE WHIG it shall no more be said
"That you print sacred truth at the risk of your head."
    He ended—And spreading his pinions for flight,
Left little NEW-YEAR and MYSELF for the night.
And now raking open the embers, the light
A Goblin most horrible shew'd to my sight,
In stature a Dwarf —but in visage so fell
He seem'd a dark spirit —just issued from Hell.
He glittered in diamonds—of gold was his wand,
And a purse of "Napoleons" was held in each hand.
He ey'd me askant—and threw open his robe,
Displaying embroider'd a Map of the Globe.
I saw there old Germany struck from her seat,
And Russia bow'd down at an Usurper's feet,
And places where states in old Europe had stood,
We're buried, deep buried, in oceans of blood:
And o'er them I read on a label enrolled,
"The CONQUESTS of France and her Tyrant behold."—
I look'd to the south—a new scene struck my eye—
A kingdom "in armour"—And "freedom" the cry—
From her snow cover'd Mountains, her brave sons again,
As, erst with Pelagius, rush down to the plain;
 And there fixed as fate—with dread purpose they stand,
To die, or deliver, their dear native land.
    And there I beheld from the Isles of the west,
A band all heroic—at Freedom's behest
Rush forth to the battle—with banners unfurl'd,
And snatch from the Tyrant a tottering world—
"And O" I exclaimed "if the councils above,
"Are guided by Justice, sweet Mercy and Love,
"Sure, sure, here the Tyrants proud arm shall be stay'd,
"His armies shall fly, and his laurels shall fade;
"The blood of such Patriots shall not flow in vain,
"And the world be preserved by the Heroes of Spain!!"
    As I spoke, the fell Spright, with a grin further drew
His mantle aside—and the West met my view—
There drawn at full length, young Columbia I spied,
But ah! how disordered, how humbled her pride—
She seemed like a young man, in vigour and bloom,
By the nostrums of quackery swept to the tomb—
She seem'd a young Giant, unnerved by strong wine,
At her length all extended, inactive, supine—
Her Ports and her Cities how desolate all,
MEMENTOS alike of her rise and her fall.
    Indignant I turn'd from this view, to my guest
And "THE LEGION OF HONOR," appear'd on his breast.
Hah! a Frenchman! I cried—and not the New-Year!
And I shrunk from the wretch with disgust and with fear
With eyes flashing vengeance—with shrugs and with sneers
He shrieked forth his "foutres" his "pests" and "Monsieurs."
Of Orders and Edicts his gibberish ran
Of Rambouillet, and Berlin and also Milan
He pointed to Canada—chattered of Blood!
And shew'd on the map where free Switzerland stood!
He talk'd of embargos and other such stuff,
And "foutred" them all to the shades with a puff.
Our "restrictions" and threat'nings, he sent to "Diable,"
And Damn'd all our Gun-Boats—as tubs for the rabble.
Of the "love of Napoleon" he gabbled an hour,
Of his kindness, and justice, his friendship and power—
Of La Franchise, La Vengeance and other such trash—
And closed by an offer to lend me some cash.
    I shrunk from his offer—I spit in his face—
And told him, indignant, his conduct was base --
That though a poor NEWS-BOY, I scorned to do evil,
And him and his master consign'd to the Devil.
Enrag'd, the foul dwarf, wildly flourish'd his wand --
And nine empty purses appear'd in each hand --
Then full in my view, with triumph he rear'd,
On each, at full length, an inscription appear'd.
On the first, "Baptiste Irvine," was written alone;
The second, "To Dunn," shew'd its Contents had gone—
On the rest, lofty names, in plain characters glare,
Of statesmen, who rule, and who clamour for war:
    The fire flash'd new light—and as nearer I drew;
A purse of small size—was develop'd to view—
It seem'd that some Cents had once lodged therein,
And shillings and sixpences there had been seen,
And on it was written, in characters meet,
"For Captain Stargazer—the tool of De Witt."
With a scowl he, exclaimed— "You see my young friend,
"We ne'er want borrowers, while we've money to lend,
"And mark me, YOUNG WHIG—ere long you shall rue,
"This saucy refusal to join the French crew."
    Indignant I view'd him and swore to his head,
I'd publish this day ev'ry word he had said:
Nor would I one word from his gib'rish retrench;
But the shy little Devil spoke wholly in French.
At which growing angry—I bade him Adieu,
And wrote just at day light, this VISION for YOU.
As Francis Stebbins explains in his editorial notes to "The News-Boy's Vision," the line about "salve for an editor's nose" alludes to his assault on rival editor Samuel W. Clark of the Hudson Bee.

Hudson, New York Northern Whig - January 6, 1812
Local allusions abound--to Hudson, not Poughkeepsie. Thus the critique of Osander's "lullaby trash" refers to a Hudson production, Miscellaneous poems, on moral and religious subjects by "Osander" aka young Benjamin Allen (born in Hudson on December 9, 1787). As also explained in the notes, "Brave Matty" refers to Martin Van Buren--a Hudson resident since 1809, and lately challenged to a duel that never happened by Federalist lawyer John Sudam.

Stebbins claimed to have humiliated Clark by twisting his nose. (In print a few months later, Stebbins mocked the criminal charge of assault and battery, calling it "Nasal Twistification.") And check this out. In his published reply to Stebbins, Clark locates the motive of the Northern Whig editor in the New Year's address for 1811, published in the Hudson Bee.
His pretended cause of justification therefore fails him. I was at the time fully convinced that he had taken exceptions to some expression in the Bee New-Year's Ode, at the commencement of 1811, but being ashamed publicly to acknowledge the real cause of his fury, he sought a pretext where none existed.  --Hudson Bee, January 14, 1812
Clark's response to Stebbins indicates that he regarded the editor and Vision-poet as different writers:
"All the talents."--It has constantly been the boast of the federalists that they possessed all the talents. I have heretofore been against yielding to them the palm--but can no longer withhold the rich boon. They have given such evidence of "ripening talents" in a late "Vision" which adorns the federal paper of this city, that it would be madness to deny their superiority, in poetical talents at least. Such a flood of talents I presume never before issued from any law-office in this city at one time, and for the benefit of posterity the author's name ought not to be withheld from the public; but having formerly had occasion to take some slight notice of him, I will for the present only make a long mark for him in my note book.  Samuel W. Clark in the Hudson Bee, January 14, 1812
Samuel W. Clark thus ascribes the 1812 "News-Boy's Vision" to some unnamed person in a "law-office in this city." According to Clark, the author is a practicing Hudson lawyer. In reply, Stebbins makes a game of the authorship mystery, encouraging his democratic rival to keep "guessing."
We have not room this week to bestow much notice upon the editorial articles in the last Bee. Our "News-Boy's VISION," seems to have sorely disturbed the tenants and visitors of the democratic wigwam in this city; each savage, and each savage's poppoose, is guessing to whom the public is indebted for this "Vision," which they acknowledge could have been the product only of "a flood of talents." They must guess better, if they hope to guess right. --Northern Whig, January 20, 1812
The cryptic italics employed by our dueling editors possibly convey some clue to the author or authors of the 1812 "News-Boy's Vision" in the Northern Whig. I'm not sure the real perpetrator(s) will ever be established definitely, beyond doubt.

Along with editors Stebbins and Stone, Joel Munsell in his chapter on "The Newspaper Press in Hudson" names four additional contributors to the Hudson Northern Whig:
  • Elisha Williams
  • James Vanderpool [also spelled Vanderpoel or Van Derpoel]
  • William W. Van Ness
  • Thomas P. Grosvenor --Typographical Miscellany
Bee editor Samuel W. Clark suspected that a local lawyer wrote "The News-Boy's Vision."  If Clark was right, Elisha Williams seems like a great candidate. The outdated reference to Charles Holt as "Captain Stargazer" evokes the glory days of Harry Croswell, whom Williams had defended when Crosswell got sued for libel as noted in the chapter on Freedom of the Press: People v. Croswell in The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton Volume 1, edited Julius Goebel Jr. (Columbia University Press, 1964). Williams even physically assaulted Croswell's rival at the Bee, Charles Holt. As the late Thomas Fleming told it in Verdict of History:
It never seemed to occur to Croswell that he was a David taking on a number of political Goliaths. One reason may have been the illusion created by the preponderance of Federalists in Hudson. Among his prominent contributors was a young attorney, Thomas Grosvenor, who was the brother-in-law of Elisha Williams. Williams did more than merely threaten Charlie Holt when the Bee turned some of its venom in his direction. He caught the small, thin Holt, described as a “cripple” by a Columbia County antiquarian, and with several supporters nearby, thrashed him thoroughly. --Thomas Fleming, Verdicts of History IV via American Heritage.
In and out of court Elisha Williams tangled with another target of the newsboy's Federalist "Vision," Martin Van Buren.

Mr. Williams had a great aversion to “Little Matty.” Mr. Bristed relates that on a certain trial Mr. Van Buren was opposed to him, and said that he was delighted with his eloquence and satirical remarks. “Sometimes,” he said, referring to Mr. Van Buren, “he would raise the little trembler to colossal size, and at other times he would depress him into such utter insignificance as scarcely to be perceptible to the human eye.”  --Ancient American Politics
Williams was celebrated for "imagination" and "magnificent invective," as recalled by Van Buren's close friend Benjamin Franklin Butler:
"Never were two men more dissimilar. Both were eloquent; but the eloquence of Williams was declamatory and exciting; that of Van Buren, insinuating and delightful. Williams had the livelier imagination; Van Buren the sounder judgment. The former presented the strong points of his case in bolder relief; invested them in a more brilliant coloring; indulged a more unlicensed and magnificent invective; and gave more life and variety to his arguments by his peculiar wit and inimitable humor...."  --quoted by William M. Holland in The life and political opinions of Martin Van Buren 2nd edition (Hartford, Connecticut, 1836); also by Adrian Hoffman Joline in The Autograph Hunter; more recently by Daniel B. Cole in Martin Van Buren and the American Political System (Princeton University Press, 1984); and Ted Widmer, Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents Series (Henry Holt and Company, 2005).
Strikingly corroborated in Biographical Sketches of the Distinguished Men of Columbia County:
"... he [Elisha Williams] was a man of rapid and quick perceptions, and was remarkable for his imitative and descriptive power, for his brilliant wit, and his surpassing eloquence." ... 
With an imagination as brilliant as that of Shakespeare....
Like Elisha Williams (1773-1833), all the other plausible authorship candidates were Hudson lawyers: Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer (1767-1835); William W. Van Ness (1776-1823); and Elisha Williams's brother-in-law Thomas P. Grosvenor (1778-1817). Same goes for identified Northern Whig contributor James Vanderpoel (1787-1843), too. But I'm guessing Elisha Williams. If that's wrong, if the Hudson Shakespeare did not write the 1812 "Newsboy's Vision" for the Northern Whig, I don't want to be right.

From the Northern Whig, March 9, 1812:
Saml. W. Clark vs. Francis Stebbins}
Fi. fa. Supreme Court. Assault and Battery. [alias, NASAL TWISTIFICATION.]
Levy $216.31
Sheriff's fees, 6.00
Northern Whig [Hudson, New York] March 9, 1812
Related posts:

Monday, March 19, 2018

To MIRA with a painted Fan (London, 1750); To KITTY with a painted Fan (Poughkeepsie, 1788)

The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 20 - March 1750
In the late 1700's the Poughkeepsie Journal occasionally printed contributions of poetry and prose signed "R," some of which have been ascribed by descendants to local farmer and surveyor Henry Livingston, Jr. Here's an otherwise uncredited poem forwarded by "R." under the title "To KITTY with a painted Fan," and published in the Poughkeepsie Journal on November 11, 1788. In the Poughkeepsie Journal, "R." describes himself as "the Editor" (rather than author) of the poem and does not say who wrote it. The same poem had appeared over the signature of "J. G." more than thirty years before, in the March 1750 number of The Gentleman's Magazine. The prose intro and body of the poem are essentially the same in both versions. The only significant revision made by "R." the Poughkeepsie "Editor" was to change the name of the addressee from "Mira" to "Kitty."

"To Mira" was reprinted under its original title in The Lady's Preceptor (London, 1792), compiled by "Mr. Cresswick."

· Tue, Nov 11, 1788 – Page 4 · Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, New York) ·
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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Verse Paraphrase of the Dutch Hymn to Saint Nicholas, 1810

This is "the first American Santa Claus poem," as Charles W. Jones called it in his much-quoted 1954 essay on the Knickerbocker Santa Claus. Professor Jones found the unattributed lines in the New York Spectator for December 15, 1810, but the poem had appeared a few days earlier in the New York Commercial Advertiser for December 12, 1810. It was also reprinted in the New York Evening Post on December 14, 1810, concluding the elaborate account of the Festival of St. Nicholas as celebrated that year by the New-York Historical Society. Found in the New York Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank:

New York Commercial Advertiser - December 12, 1810


Oh good holy man! whom we Sancte Claus name,
The Nursery forever your praise shall proclaim:
The day of your joyful revisit returns,
When each little bosom with gratitude burns,
For the gifts which at night you so kindly impart
To the girls of your love, and the boys of your heart.
Oh! come with your panniers and pockets well stow'd,
Our stockings shall help you to lighten your load,
As close by the fire-side gaily they swing,
While delighted we dream of the presents you bring.

Oh! bring the bright Orange so juicy and sweet,
Bring Almonds and Raisins to heighten the treat;
Rich Waffles and Dough-Nuts must not be forgot,
Nor Crullers and Oley-Cooks fresh from the pot.
But of all these fine presents your Saintship can find,
Oh! leave not the famous big Cookies! behind.
Or if in your hurry one thing you mislay,
Let that be the Rod—and ah! keep it away.
Then holy Saint Nicholas! all the long year,
Our books we will love, and our parents revere;
From naughty behaviour we'll always refrain,
In hopes that you'll come and reward us again.
The original "Dutch Hymn" was printed by John Pintard in the 1810 broadside for members of the New-York Historical Society, below the illustration of St. Nicholas by Alexander Anderson

St Nicholas by John Pintard (1810)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Gansevoort in 1829, reading John Franklin

In 1829 and 1830, Herman and his older brother Gansevoort Melville attended the Grammar School of Columbia College. As mentioned in an earlier post on the Grammar School, John P. Runden published two fine articles on the Columbia school in Melville Society Extracts:
  • "Columbia Grammar School: An Overlooked Year in the Lives of Gansevoort and Herman Melville" in Melville Society Extracts 46 (May 1981): 1-3; and 
The text of this 1829 letter from Gansevoort Melvill (as then spelled) to his mother Maria appears in Runden's 1981 article. I saw the original document last year in the Gansevoort-Lansing collection at NYPL in the same folder with the 1826 letter about Mrs. Palmer's tea party. My motive for giving the later letter again here is to highlight the new book Gansevoort was reading when he wrote it: Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea (London: John Murray, 1828) by John Franklin and John Richardson.
May 23d 1828 [1829] New York
Dear Mother
We received Uncle's letter yesterday afternoon. I am very much pleased with the Grammar School, it is divided into four room's. Mr. Ogilby's room which comprehend's the first and second classes the first class is going to college next October it consists of twenty five boys. Mr. Underdonk has the charge of the third and fourth classes I belong to the former. The Mathematical department is under the care of Mr Mac Gorman the English under that of Mr Belden who formerly taught in the second room in the High School. I only recited five lesson's in the first part of the Latin Reader and having gone ahead of the boys in my class who to tell the truth were only three I was promoted into the third class. The book that I had bought was so little injured that Mr Lockwood took it back. Mr Underdonk, my instructor, told me that if I would call at his room in Broadway, he would with pleasure explain to me any part of my lesson. I think this was extremely kind in him. I was very happy to hear that Augusta's health is improving and I hope that when she return's her former vivacity will return with her. This morning Herman went to Hoboken in high spirits and returned about four o'clock. I am now reading Franklin's second journey to the Polar sea. We all unite in love to Grandmamma, Aunt Mary and cousins. We all send a kiss to yourself and Augusta.

Your affectionate Son,
Gansevoort Melvill.
 --Gansevoort Melvill to Maria Melvill, 23 May [1829]. Gansevoort-Lansing collection, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.