Text: William M. Griswold, “[Section 01],” Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold, Cambridge, MA: W. M. Griswold, 1898, pp. 5-56


[page 5, unnumbered:]



Rufus Wilmot Griswold was born on the 15th of February 1815, at Benson, Vermont, where his father, also named Rufus, was a small farmer. He claimed descent from G. Griswold, of Kenilworth, one of whose sons settled in Windsor, and another at Saybrook, Conn. On his mother’s side he was of the ninth generation of the descendants of T. Mayhew, the first settler of Martha’s Vineyard. The character of his early surrroundings may be inferred from the two letters which follow: —

Dear Rufus:

We received your letter on the 21 Dec. [1838], and could I write now as I could once I should have answered it before this; but I am old and not capable of writing at all. I have a desire to write once more to you. . . We expect Silas is dead, and where and how he died we know not; but if we had evidence that he was prepared how it would blunt the keen edge of affliction! Rufus, are you a Christian? Are you prepared to meet your God? If not be entreated to set about that important work. Look away to the blessed Saviour for help . . . You cannot think how glad we should be to see you and your family — you know not how lonesome we are. Our family are all gone seemingly. Chauncy has not been home since some time in the fall. Permelia has been home once since. Merrill comes often to see how we get along; he is very good [page 6:] to help your father. Marcus is living with us. Chauncy is likewise very kind — he has caused our house to be made very warm and comfortable. Your father and I enjoy good health for people of our age. . .

Your affectionate mother,  
Deborah Griswold.

The next letter was written in Feb., 1841.

“Although it is a long time since we wrote to you, be assured there is no day passes that I do not think of all my Children. . . Our family — the most of them, are gone so far from us, it makes us feel very lonesome. Our little family, consisting of your father, myself and Elizabeth are, through Divine favor, in usual helth and enjoying the necessary Comforts of life. Merril’s family have been sick, the two yongest very sick. . . Your uncle Samuel Griswold, his wife and family, are well. He will be eighty years old in March. Permelia and family are well. Eveline was married the 7th of January to Mr. Moody, Merchant in Whitehall. We have received a letter from Edwin . . . Chauncy is in Ticonderoga working at [his?] trade. We likewise had a letter from Orra in the fall. . . . Randolph, we know nothing of him. Rufus, it will be but a little while when there will be no father’s house to visit; your father lacks but two years of seventy, — I am only two years yonger. . . May God bless you, my son, and gide you by His holy Spirit into all truth.

Your mother and friend,  
Deborah Griswold.

In West-Haven, the town joining Benson on the south, Horace Greeley, born four years earlier than Griswold, spent his boyhood. [page 7:] At fifteen we find Rufus a student at the Rensselaer school at Troy, which he was enabled to attend by the kindness of his brother Heman, who had prospered in business in that town. In consequence of detection in a school prank, he was placed in his brother’s counting-room. While there he became intimate with G. G. Foster, his elder by five years, and already well-known, locally, as poet and journalist. Griswold soon fell out with his kinsfolk, (the cause of the disagreement is unknown; and joined Foster at Albany. In a memorandum written some twenty years afterward, he thus describes their friendship: —

“We remained, occupying the same room, and sharing each other’s enterprises, pleasures and ambitions, for nearly a year. It was here that we both commenced and pursued our first course in reading in romantic and poetical literature. All the masters of literary art who had written in the English language contributed to our entertainment and were subjected to our critical discussions. We generally agreed very well, in our estimates of books and authors, but sometimes had warm controversies, as in the cases of Pope and Goldsmith and a few other classical models, whom I preferred to the romantic and passionate school. The only discussion, however, in which our disagreements were of a sort to endanger our amicable relations was one which arose from my preference of certain passages in a manuscript Poem of his own, entitled the 17th Canto, to the parts of Byron’s Don Juan which were nearly in the same vein. I thought then, as I still think, that for the humorous and satirical style of Beppo, Foster’s abilities and temper fitted him to attain the greatest success. “The 17th [page 8:] Canto” contained about 3000 lines, and was full of genuine wit, playful burlesque and good feeling. The loss of the manuscript was a misfortune, since nothing that he has since done has illustrated a more sustained, quick, brilliant or sensuous intelligence. We parted in the spring of 1831, and though we Occasionally corresponded, did not meet again in ten years. He had led a life of various fortune, in the South and West. I was Editor, with Mr. Park Benjamin, of the “Brother Jonathan” newspaper, and while congratulating with some acquaintances one day, at our office — upon the, success of a scheme which we supposed was to revolutionise the publishing Economy of the Country — was surprised by the appearance of Foster, in the grotesque costume of the South- West, but otherwise scarcely changed from what I had known him.”

[The “Museum” mentioned was “The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, etc.. Prose and Poetical:” Philadelphia, 1787-92, 12 vols., 8o.]


Hartford, June 4, 1785.


My absence from home, and other avocations, have till now prevented my completing the corrections and transcriptions I forward with this letter. Those of my writings already published are out of my hands, and I can make no reasonable objection to their republication by any person who shall think they will repay his risque and expense; and I shall be particularly pleased if they should be of any advantage to a gentleman who by his repeated exertions for the encouragement of American literature has merited the thanks of all its friends.

The Progress of Dulness [published 1772], from its locality, as well as from other reasons, I had determined long since to suppress, but I find it Impracticable. I have transcribed the elegy to which Col. [D.] Humphreys [page 9:] [1752-1818] added the title, “The Vanity of Ambition,” which doe8 not well apply to it, as it now stands, and still less to the real occasion on which it was composed. I dd not see that it needs any title.

I propose hereafter the publication of McFingal [first part issued in 1776, last in 1782], with my alterations, and a complete set of notes, which it certainly wants, with the addition of all my other poems, of which I have many, both in the serious and humorous style, that have lain by me for many years. But I mean to secure the copyright, which may be an object worth my attention. I should have no objection to the sale of the copyright, and would give you, if you wish it, the first offer of the purchase.

I am pleased to learn by a letter from our friend Mr. [Ebenezer] Hazard [1744-17], that you propose to publish an edition of all the American poets of reputation. In the list he gives me, I find no mention made of [Rowland] Bugely of S. C, a poet certainly superior to Evans [Nathaniel Evans, 1742-67,?]. He published a volume of poems in London near twenty years ago, chiefil in the name of Prim [?] many of which are well worth preserving; and since that a travesty of the 4th Book of Virgil, which for delicacy and true humor is superior to Colton’s.

You may collect some poems — particularly “The Choice of a Rural Life,” or “Philosophic Solitude,” by Governor [W.] Livingston [1723-90], which do credit to American genius. I have found among my papers an elegy by Samuel Quincy of Boston, which you may perhaps think worth inserting in your Museum. He was certainly a poet above mediocrity. I have seen many other of his productions, which I have never seen printed. Many fugitive poems by him, Mayhew, Pratt and others might be collected in Boston which are worth preserving (in the Museum.)

I send you also a little epistolatory Poem of Col. Humphreys which may be inserted in the Museum. He was about to publish it in a way I think much less proper. I wish it might not be known that he proposed its publication, but appear to have fallen into your hands by accident.

I shall be happy to afford you any assistance in my power in the collection of such fugitive pieces as may deserve publication. A brother of Mr. Hazard’s was a poet of genius. Perhaps Mr. H. would furnish you with some of his productions. When he avoided the licentious style his writings had much merit.

I am sir. Your most obedient and humble servant,
John Trumbull. [page 10:]

I find no trace of Griswold’s doings during the years 1832-33, but in July, 1834, as appears from the address of a letter, he was in Calais, Maine. This letter was written by his brother Silas, and stated that there was an opening for him on a paper about to be started at Dunkirk, N.-Y., where Silas then dwelt. Silas repeated his invitation Oct. 14, sending his letter to Syracuse, N.-Y. where Griswold was working in the office of “The Constitutionalist.”


[At the date of this letter the writer was 55. He was Secretary of the navy 1837-41, and died in 1860. — The Brown mentioned is probably James Brown, born in Virginia in 1766, senator 1818-23, envoy in France 1828-29. He died in 1835.]

New York, 19th April, 1835.

Dear Sir:

I am greatly obliged to you for your friendly attention in sending me, occasionally, the speeches of some of your distinguished orators, and am most especially pleased with that of Mr. Brown, which I have just finished reading. Of all the states of this union Old Virginia is the one which I consider the great Bulwark of Constitutional principles. It is there that my observation has convinced me they are best understood and practiced, and thdrethat I look for the great security for their, preservation, and it gives much satisfaction to think that all her great points of opinion and policy are such as I myself cherish more devoutly every day of my life.

As a clear, temperate and masterly exposition of those principles I think the speech of Mr. Brown one of the most admirable I have ever read, though in some respects I differ with him in his application of those great principles to the present times. It is not necessary for me to say in what these differences consist, though had I time at present I might point them out to you. My leisure will not permit it just now and therefore I pass them by.

In justice however to my native state, I cannot forbear some remarks on that part of the speech which relates to the mode of managing our Eleotions. I admit that it is liable to objections as in some degree checking if not [page 11:] overcoming the free suffrage of the People, in so far as it interferes with the personal predilections of perhaps a great portion of the voters. But so far as my observation and experience extends, it does not interfere with principles. No nomination of Committees has ever yet, nor in my opinion ever will, force down the throats of the others an obnoxious candidate, or one who they do not believe will support their own interests and principles. It may serve to concentrate their suffrages on one they like, but never in favor of one they dd not like. It is not dictation but advice; not despotism but friendly counsel; not a command but a recommendation.

As our system, or machinery as it is called, seems to puzzle the Southern politicians, I will take the opportunity of showing what it really is. In the first place, meetings of the people friendly to regular nominations, as the phrase is, are called to appoint an equal number of delegates from each ward for the purpose of choosing a General Nominatory Committee, which is to designate or recommend the persons who are thought worthy to represent them in any elective office. The nominations are laid before the People in a Genera] meeting and adopted or rejected as they choose. The only influence considered is that which operates, in all circumstances and situations of life, — the influence of record [?], persuasion, or example. The Committees, it is true, have influence, but they are chosen by the people and the people, in the last resort, exercise the right of reversing their proceedings. If they do, they become null and void; if they do not it is the best proof, to my mind, that though all are not equally satisfied, all are willing to acquiesce.

Such is the abstract view of this system of Regular nominations. In practice, like every thing else in this world, it is liable to great abuses and perversions. That the People are liable to be deceived, overawed, or influenced by the acts, the authority, or the reasonings and persuasions of those whom they respect, or fear, is certain; but this is one of those inevitable influences which extend to every department of life, and cannot be avoided. There are always men in every little circle of society who give tone to opinion and direction to action. Influence must come from somewh6re or other, and it would seem to be sufficient for the protection of human rights that every man has the moral and physical right to act as he pleases. If he pleases to act under the influence of a friend or a neighbor who[m] he considers wiser than himself, he is only following the law of nature, and can not [page 12:] be charged with submitting to dictation when he has the right of acting just as he pleases.

I agree entirely with Mr. Brown, in his estimate of the possible, nay probable evils of an amalgamation [?] of this species of Influence, pervading the United States and receiving its impulse and direction from one single person. But whatever they may be, if we look to the other side of the question, are not the dangers equally great, if not greater? The principle of our Government, that, within the limits of the Constitution, the minority has a right to govern, seems to imply the right to take the measures necessary to enable it to govern. If every State, and every [city?] even, should indulge their preference and nominate a[nd] vote for that one for President who is most peculiarly their choice, what would be the inevitable consequence? Unless in the rare accident of having a Citizen of such vast and paramount merit or popularity as to concentrate in his favor the suffices of the whole or a minority of the People, there would never be any choice of the People. The choice would always fall on Congress, and the Lord deliver us from such an alternative. That would become the centre of intrigue and corruption, and the voice of the People would be as that of one crying in the wilderness. Under our present Constitution I can see no refuge from the greater evil but the lesser one of uniting, if possible, the suffrage of a Party on some one person, who, though not the general choice of every Citizen of that Party, is neither obnoxious [n] or suspected. If some such models not adopted, this Government will sometime be one of the minority, and though this might not be disagreeable to the minority, the result would be certain — a delegated power acting in direct opposition to the wishes of a minority of those who conferred it; a President representing a mass of contradictory principles, and opposing on all occasions a majority of his Constituents, and opposed by the other Branches of [the] Government. This, to my mind, would be equivalent to no government at all.

My paper is full, or I would speculate deeper into this subject. I have no objection that Mr. Brown should know the high gratification his admirable speech has afforded me, notwithstanding his [opinion?] of New York. He may make himself quite easy about the [illegible] over the Union. She is not homogeneous like Old Virginia. She is a party-coloured coat like that of Joseph. Foreigners, Yankees and Cesmopolites make up a large portion of her population, and she never looks long enough in one direction to see her way clear, beyond her nose. By the time the next succeeding Election, [page 13:] after the approaching one, arrives, her politics, notwithstanding the “machinery” of regular nominations, will just as likely as not have undergone a complete French Revolution. She will never govern the Union for she cannot keep her helm steady long enough to arrive at that Port.

I am, Dear Sir, Yours very truly,
J. K. Paulding.

Don’t use my name publicly in connection with this letter.


[Mr. Duane was secretary of the treasury in 1833, but was removed by Jackson for refusing to take the government deposits from the U. S. Bank, the House of Representatives having voted, three to one, that the deposits not to be removed. Mr. Duane died in 1865.]

Philadelphia, April 24, 1835.

My dear Sir.

I have thankfully received the favors which you had the goodness to send to me; and have read with pleasure and instruction the speech delivered by Mr. Brown. The copies of it which you have placed at my disposal shall be carefully and usefully disposed of. By this I mean that they shall be put into the hands of those who are competent to estimate merit. As to producing any politically useful effect, through the press, at least in this state, it is not to be expected at present. Indeed I think the number of purely patriotic men is small everywhere. Not that such men are not in existence, but that we do not see them. This is probably owing to the cold reception they meet with; and this cold reception is attributable to the disappointments the people have met with. The actual practice of Gen. Jackson, for instance, has been the very reverse of his professions. So that, after such an instance of turn-coatism, the people have some apology for distrust. We want, I think, a class of men who would labor to serve their country solely from the delight which serving it would yield. I mean men who would not seek or accept offices or other selfish considerations. No doubt there have been and are such men, but if you will look over the list of public men, for fifty years past, you will trace in almost every instance some lurking motive besides the bare love of country and of liberty. . .

With kind wishes, truly and respectfully yours,
W. J. Duane.

[page 14:]

In May, 1835, Griswold was editor of “The Democrat and Inquirer” of Fredonia, and in 1836 of the Olean “Advocate.”

New York, Oct. 16th, 1836.

Friend Griswold, —

. . . You ask me in your letter how I like your paper. I answer very much indeed. Now I do not wish to flatter you in the least when I say that, in my humble opinion, it is as good [as] if not superior to any country paper in the state. . .

A penny paper called the “Era” was started a few days since, by Mr. Locke, the author of the “Moon Story,” and Mr. Price, a very popular contributor of the Mirror — they are both very talented men — and the paper so far is well conducted. I think it will equal, if not surpass, any paper in the city. The Herald came out on them the first day the paper made its appearance; but the way they used him up for it was a caution — the Era cut him all to pieces — Bennett could not begin to hold his own! I will try to send you the papers that contain the articles — they give a complete sketch of his life from the time of his arrival in this country up to the present time — and a chronological table of all the “floggings,” “kickings” and “buffetings” he has received — I am glad of it — he is a great rascal, and deserves it.

I send you . . . the “Merchant Clerk.” Bulwer’s drama is not received yet; we expect it every day — we have our cases filled, and all the quads and italics in the office collected together ready for the contest, as soon as we receive the copy. We executed the entire work of “Lucien Bonaparte” and published it in forty hours after we received the copy, and sold it at three shillings. We did not leave the office from Tuesday noon until Wednesday morning nine o’clock; I was pretty well used up, I assure you; Fletcher Harper gave all the hands a splendid supper at his house (which is a few doors from the office) during the night; it was the most magnificent affair that I have seen for ft long time; Fletcher went the whole “figure.”

We have received part of the copy of a new novel by James, called the “Desultory Man” — we expect the remainder every day. I see that Saunders and Otley have announced it as also in press — no matter — I think our John Bull friends will become tired of their opposition, and will be glad to go home after they lose a little more money. Harpers are determined to strike and spare not. [page 15:]

We have likewise commenced the “Memoirs of Col. Burr” in 2 vols. 8vo. We have also announced as in press, “Rambles in Europe by Edwin Forrest, with a memoir of the author by William Leggett, Esq.” — it will be very popular. We have just published “Bryant’s Poems” — it is a beautiful work. . . Write soon.

Yours respectfully,
Marcus B. Butler.

In March, 1837, Griswold married Caroline Searles, and for some months dwelt with her family at 51 1/2 Clinton St., New-York. Before the close of this year, he was licensed to preach. In those days, however, clergymen, — particularly Baptists, — rarely had a systematic training, and it is not probable that his studies were either thorough or long-continued.

[Thinking that the autograph mentioned in the following letter might have literary interest, I asked the librarian of the university about it. His reply states that “In the ‘60ties the society came to be neglected, and its library was pillaged to some extent by the members. . . What became of the autograph in question no one can now tell.”]

University of Vt., Burlington, Dec. 23, 1837.


The Phi Sigma Nu Society of the University of Vt. have elected you to an honorary membership of their fraternity. Should you think fit to accept this testimony of their regard you will please signify it to them through me. —

The Society would also present their sincerest thanks for the valuable autograph of Washington Irving which was given by yourself to the society.

With great respect and esteem [etc.],
H. J. Raymond, Sec.

In September, 1837, Griswold (aged 22) issued the prospectus of a magazine to be called “The Anthology.” He was then secretary of “The Antiquarian Society of New-York.” In Feb., 1838, “The Vermonter” was started at Vergennee with Griswold as editor. [page 16:]

New York, 13th Feb., 1838.

Rufus —

Your paper came to hand yesterday, and I protest it’s one of the best ones I have got hold of this many a day. You have got it out a month earlier than I expected, and made it one hundred per cent, better than I fancied you would.

You do stick it into the miserable pirates of the South good! — and you don’t let off their dirty Tory apologists and pimps at the North without some good solid kicks. Go it, Rufe! — it’s the cause of both God and man: I feel positive of this fact, if I never did of anything else. Your salutatory is an excellent article: you never wrote a better: I have read it three or four times. Greeley . . . has gone to Albany for a week now, and we have Park Benjamin in his place! Park is a steamboat, I promise you. Have you seen our last No.? The literary notices are his, and the Congress. Dr. Eldridge, a new owner, writes the articles over the dagger- — nothing very bright. But Park is the boy for you. Don’t he saw up the gag “Gentleman’s Magazine” though I Did you notice a little article of his on the outside (from the American) — “The Nautilus?” It’s very beautiful — and we have another this week, which was originally published a few days since under the editorial head of the Commercial Advertiser — “The Stormy Petrel” is the title. Park is a splendid writer. The Yorker of this week will contain an original “Hymn at Midnight” by P. B. — and an excellent one it is too. . .


[Park Benjamin was born in 1809 in British-Guiana. He began the practice of law in 1833, but soon relinquished it for the pursuit of literary Journalism, in which, for a dozen years or more, he was conspicuous. He edited the last two volumes (1835) of the New-England Magazine, and when that was merged in The American Monthly Magazine, he transferred his services to this. Allibone agrees with our friend Bowe as to the merit of Benjamin’s poems, saying of them that they are “of exquisite beauty.” I thought it of interest to inquire whether the judgement of his contemporaries had been confirmed by later critics, and to this end examined all the anthologies within reach with the following result: No poem is quoted by C. A. Dana (1857 and 1866), Palmer (1866), W. C. Bryant (1876), Fields and Whipple (1878), or Epes Sargent (1884). A. C. Kendrick, however (1871), prints “The Sexton,” C. F. Bates (1882), “Press On,” and Stedman, in his “Library,” gives “A Great Name.” This is a curious outcome, since the [page 17:] last two can not have recollected the attention which the verses originally receivd, while the first six would naturally have been affected by their memory of it.

It is probable, however, that Benjamin’s accomplishments as a poet brought him into notice less tlian did his feats as a journalist and critio. In the Southern Literary Messenger for Dec. 1835, Poe had begun his slashing criticisms, and won theitby considerable applause. Benjamin may have thought that there was room for him in the same field, but he seems to have picked out a victim with less discrimination. It was S. G. Goodrich whom he attackd, and tho Goodrich, as a poet, is even more completely forgotten than Benjamin is, the public then did not approve the fun Benjamin tried to have with him. The Boston “Gazette” remarked that his criticism was “evidently dictated by personal pique, is unjust, abusive, sour and dirty, and disgraces the magazine in which it appears; “and the New-York Transcript” said: “Some of them [the reviews] are written in monstrously bad taste and still worse temper. They are fiippant, partial, unjust and abusive. We know not when we have seen a number combining so much ill-temper, prejudice and unfairness as that on ‘The Outcast’ by S. G. Goodrich.”

The aggrieved author, moreover, took the offensive in a long letter which was printed in leaded type on the editorial page of the Boston “Courier” of 5 May 1836. It shows curiously how small were the interests of those days that such a matter should receive so much attention. The letter ran thus: —

“As I have been the theme of frequent discussion in the American Magazine, it seems to me a matter of necessity that I take some notice of it. . . . The May number has . . . the same strain of ridicule and vituperation. A few months ago he placed me on a level with a vender of quack medicines, — insinuated that I was guilty of rapacity in money matters, and therefore worthy of the fate of Midas. Now, I am a “patcher up of books and pictures in multifarious shapes,” — a “literary cobbler,” who is advised “to stick to his last,” etc. . .

Mr. Benjamin has doubtless the same independence in morality that he has in criticism. Where his passions on his convenience are concerned, he probably sees no turpitude in indulged malice, and no lack of dignity in a lie. He doubtless thought himself peculiarly fitted to edit the Token. . . In attempting, therefore, to ruin me first with the public, then to deprive me of the confidence of my publisher, and finally to take a place which, in his [page 18:] estimation, I unworthily filled, he probably only thought of bringing things to their right arrangement. . . I think I have said enough to show the true character of this Mr. Benjamin, enough to enable the public to understand the spirit which guides him in private life, and presides over him in his critical capacity.”]


Batavia, Feb. 26, 1838.

Dear Brother:

Having a moment of leisure I hasten to forward you such information as I have been able to gather relative to the movements of the Patriots in the province of Canada. A Gentleman of this village received a Letter from Detroit this morning stating that twenty-one hundred Patriots had crossed over from Michigan in three divisions to Canada under the command of Gen. Sutherland and McLeod and that they would be able to carry all before them.

On Saturday evening about eight a body crossed over eight miles above Buffalo and proceeded direct to Hamilton. Col. Worth having notice of their movements proceeded to the point from whence they were to start but the Patriots having information of his movements took up their line of march earlier than they anticipated. All reached Canada safe save about fifty who were taken by Worth together with four cannon, which by the way the patriots could well spare having more of that kind than they could use to advantage. I received a letter from a Gentleman at Lockport stating that one hundred sleighs passed through that place on Friday night [going] west and Saturday a number more. They reported that they were a going out on a Wolf hunt. The number of men was not mentioned but some says a number of hundred. The Arsenal at this place has been broken open within the last week and eighty stands of arms and nineteen hundred and fifty pounds powder was taken out. They are ere this undoubtedly at Hamilton or Toronto. A rumor well authenticated is in circulation that Van Rensselaer has taken Kingston, Maiden, Toronto. Hamilton and Queenstown are ere this beyond a doubt in the hands of the Patriots. The above information you may rely upon as being substantially correct. . . The greatest excitement prevails on this frontier. . .

Ever your Brother, etc.,
S. Parsons Griswold.

[page 19:]

New York. 14 March, 1838.

My dear Rufe —

. . . Oh you rascalle! how you spoiled my verses “On the Death of a Friend” by your poor emendation of the second line! — I wouldn’t have had it done for two shillings; and I am positive you would have let it alone had you bestowed a thought and a half upon it. Let me illustrate: — I had it — “Forever closed on earth her radiant eye;” meaning, evidently, that she saw no longer the things of time and sense; but Lord, man I I wished to leave her vision of the heavenly world clear and cloudless: and now see what you have done with it! “Forever closed her meek and radiant eye!” Damn that word “meek” — how I do hate it! — I hate it anywhere and everywhere, but above all things in that line. Don’t you see it is utterly inconsistent with the other adjective radiant? To say that an eye is radiant means that it is bright and sparkling; to call the same eye meek is arrant nonsense — for meek is mild, soft, subdued. — Moreover your improvement (!) has materially injured the effect of some of the subsequent lines, by weakening their connection with the second — as you have now got the eyes fully and totally sealed, alike upon Time and Eternity. . .



New York, 22 April, 1838.

. . . Rufus! take the name of that scoundrel, Henry Clay, out of your paper! He is too mean a foe to the Abolitionists ever to deserve a vote from you or I, or any other man who has any regard for the right. Do you have Whittier’s paper? If not, read the extracts from it on the first page of the last “Emancipator” and be ashamed of Clay! . . .

Your ob’t serv’t,
Obadiah Allen Bowe.


Vergennes, [10 May, 1838.]

My Dear Mother and Brother:

‘Tis Sunday, one week ago tonight we were tdgether. Now, many a mile separates us! But I have arrived at my journey’s end, safe, and as well as could be expected. . . The Packet [canal-boat] leaves [Troy] once a day, eleven o’clock [A. M.]. I got at Whitehall by five o’clock the next morning, the Packet was uncomfortable from the great number of passengers, we had shelfs to lay on, wide enough to sit a plate. I sat op all night and held Sis. God grant I may not pass another such a night very soon. [page 20:]

The people at Troy were very kind, I like them much. Elizabeth Qriswold and Mrs. Richards went as far as Waterford with me, it being clear for about two hours the morning I left Troy, the only time the sun visited me on my lonely way. On my arrival at Whitehall I awaited the coming of the steamboat most anxiously that was to bear my good huHband to me, but in vain, he came not. I felt as though I was friendless, alone, at a hotel, in a strange place with a sick babe, and myself not much better, but I thought of Mrs. Cairns’ old friend. Providence, by that try to drive away melancholy. I found many who knew Rufus, among the best one Mr. Huntington, a merchant from Vergennes, the name of Mrs. R. W. Griswold was all sufficient, it commanded attention from all quarters. I accepted the protection of Mr. Huntington, from whom I received every attention. We got at Vergennes about nine o’clock Saturday evening. Rufus did not receive my letter in time to take the boat; it stops at Vergennes about ten o’clock in the evening and gets to Whitehall in the morning, leaves again at one, it does not go but once a day from either place. I found that I had made wrong calculation. I regretted not taking the line boat, they are much more commodious, and attended with less expense, the fare in Packet two dollars, in Steamer from Whitehall two dollars. Meals extra, then you go seven miles by stage — that is one dollar I believe. Never mind, I got here safe with two shillings in my pocket, to the very great astonishment of Rufus. Had he been us, he would spoil the face of thirty dollars. Nothing like stretching funds. I fear mother, that I shall weary you, but you must bear with me, I have much to tell you, oh I if you were here, you must come, — indeed. [Wednesday] I like our house very much, it is two story brick, very convenient, every time I go down to it I make a discovery, another closet or bedroom meets my eye. Mother, you had better move here, and we would open a boarding-house. I don’t know when I shall get my things in order, that is if we ever get them. . . I must content myself here [at the inn] for the remainder of the week, much against my will, though the people are very kind, somewhat too much so for my comfort. I would rather be to myself more. It takes all my time to dress Sis and myself. She almost worships [me?]. I cannot scarce breathe a wish ere it’s gratified. The people here are very fashionable, and all whom I have met with appear very intelligent and well educated. I but too sensibly feel my inability to fill the place, in that sphere in which I am to move, every word and action of the Editor’s wife is noted. No matter! I’ll play off the Lady so far as my better monitor, judgment, will allow; there are many Ladys and Gentlemen boarding [page 21:] here. I am obliged to dress for dinner; another for tea, in the intermedium be prepared for visitors. Pianofortes are quite as common as in New-York. . .

Caroline Griswold.


U. V., June 3, 1838.

Dear Griswold: —

. . . Can you find out who wrote an article in the New Yorker of April 28, entitled “Thoughts on Poetic Excellence,” wherein my review is somewhat [severely] handled. — I believe the first writing I can get time to do must be for Greeley to answer that. If you have a chance to do it without inconvenience I would also be obliged to you if you would procure from Greeley for me 3 or 4 copies of those Nos. of the “N. Yorker” that contain my notice of Dana. I have no copy now, and I should like one to send to Dana, as well as one or two for some friends. . .

Yours sincerely,
H. J. Raymond.


“Telegraph” Office, Brandon, June 28, 1838.

Friend Griswold: —

We want you to come to Brandon and give us an Anti-Slavery address on the 4th proximo. . . You have doubtless some arrangement, in part at least, of ideas on this great and momentous subject, that will enable you to do the cause a good service by coming to Brandon on that day. We will bear your expenses. Most truly yours,

O. S. Murray.


[Bowe had become editor and publisher of a paper at Herkimer, a town in the Mohawk valley fourteen miles from Utica.]

Herkimer, 10 July, 1838.

. . . Had a confab with Thurlow Weed in Albany. Thurlow says you are an imprudent dog, and will ruin the Whig cause in Vermont. I told him it would take half a dozen pretty smart fellows to do that. . .



Ashland [postmarked Lexington], 28th July, 1838.

Dear Sir:

I have received your letter informing me that at the Whig Convention lately held in Vermont, some of the members who were friendly to [page 22:] me determiued to cause an enqairy to be made of me whether, should it be deemed necessary at a Convention to be holden in the fall, to ask my sentiments on the Slavery question, I will [would?] answer, and permit the answer to be published? And the particular enquiries which you state it is desired to put to me are, Has Congress power over slavery in the District of Columbia? Has it power to regulate the Slave trade between the States, &c?

I have, at the last Session of Congress, expressed, in the Senate, my sentiments fully on the subjects of your letter, in the form of a series of resolutions, and of speeches, which I addressed to that body. As to the D. of Col. I thought that Congress could not abolish slavery thdre without a violation of good faith; and that Congress had no power to prevent the remdval of slaves from dne Slave state to another.

Having thus so recently publicly expressed my views, I confess that I dd not perceive the necessity of any new expression of them. I will not say that I should not answer such a letter as you describe to be the intention of some of my friends to address to me; but I must think it not necessary.

It is remarkable that, at the very moment when I am replying to you, I have before me several letters from the South stating that I am charged there with being an Abolitionist.

With great respect, I am Yours faithfully,
H. Clay.


Herkimer, Aug., 1838.

. . . I haven’t seen the Locofoco report of your speech at Montpelier, though I should like to — for I saw the allusions of the Vermont Patriot thereto in Whittier’s paper. . . Dd you have Whitter’s “Freeman?” I get that and the “Emancipator” and the “Friend of Man” — the Liberator wont send, but I don’t care no great about it. I can’t go the figure against the d — d pirates, as I should like most dearly; our friends here, some of them — are shocked to death if you name the name of Abolition — the fools! — But I did announce the Freedom of the British West Indies in yesterday’s paper. . . . Curse this miserable, this shameful fear of the topic of Abolition! — it’s all ignorance, every atom!



Burlington, Vt., Sept. 24, 1838.

My dear Griswold:

. . . On my journey homeward I saw Greeley and was very much pleased with him. Tour letter of introduction came too late, so I was forced [page 23:] to introduce myself: but as he is not very much devoted to ceremonious observances, it made but little difference. He made many inquiries about you, all of which I satisfied as well as I could.

Do you know anything about the probable result of your projected “Anthology?” I sincerely hope that you will not give it up. Cannot you enlist someone with you who would carry through the business part of it? — It is needed and I believe desired, which with booksellers is more to the purpose. How comes on your History of Vt.?

Yours sincerely,
Henry J. Raymond.


[“ ‘My own position touching slavery,’ wrote Clay in Nov. 1838, ‘is singular enough. The abolitionists are denouncing me as a slaveholder, and slaveholders as an abolitionist, while both unite on Van Buren’ . . . His coarse with regard to the anti-slavery petitions, as well as his occasional profession of sentiments unfriendly to slavery, had injured his popularity with the slaveholders. . . and it is probable that Southern Whigs, many of whom, while his friends, were firm pro-slavery men, suggested to him the policy of setting himself right with the South. In February, 1839, he made a speech which had all the appearance of an attempt on his part to do this.” Schurz’ “Clay,” ii, 164.]

“Old Democratic Herkimer,” Feb. 28th, 1839.

I say, Rufus! —

How do you prosper on an average? — D0 the Yarmounters patronize, pay up, and let you live? — or do you drag along barely from hand to mouth — and not hardly that, some of the time — getting cursedly in debt, and your customers not caring a d—n for anything else, so they get their own tarn served regularly once a week? That’s the way some of mine “patronize” me — and among them are sundry of the most vociferous Whigs in this section, — the d — d impostors! — “I have a theory” as the fellow said, that the term “Whig,” in its genuine, legitimate sense, means an honest, intelligent, decent man: consequently all the cursed loafers who pretend to hail under the title, swindling and lying you out of your just dues — (for promising eternally, without the shadow or design of performance, is the meanest lying I know of), are so many blasted, infernal pirates, against whom it is the duty of every decent man to set his face — aye, and kick his foot, too! . . .

What the devil has become of your Abolition? — publishing that cursed, lying, slanderous speech of Clay’s without a word of comment! I gave in [page 24:] the Journal an abstract which I found in one of the papers, and made a remark or two upon the foolish lies which Clay is guilty of — and, Heaven defend us! — what a kicking and squirming there is among the “Whigs” of this county! I am throwing “fire brands” into the party, and fairly raised h—ll. But it won’t do. While I am prepared to go for Clay in preference to Van Buren, “if worst comes to worst,” I never will stand tamely by, and see the True Friends of Freedom assailed with lousy lies from any quarter. That’s what I am — and where I am: do you take? Come, let us see you “chaw up” that speech as it deserves:- — None of your winking and blinking: come up to the scratch! You can safely say five words in Vermont against the hellish system of slavery, where I can say one here, among these benighted pagans. . .



Herkimer, Mar. 12, 1839.

Rufus, my friend: —

Yours of the 4th . . . was perused with mingled emotions of pain and pleasure; — pain that the Whigs of the Green Mountain State — my own state — should so nearly resemble their delinquent, office-seeking, pro-slavery brethren of this benighted region; and pleasure, — not that you seemed no better, but that after all my trials and troubles and tribulations, I am not worse off than some others. . .

Sundry of our Whig leaders hereabouts kicked terribly at my remarks upon Clay, brief as they were; — but I don’t and didn’t care a damn I Clay is making an everlasting booby of himself , and (if he dont look out) ruining his chance at the North, — all for the sake of conciliating the bloodhounds of the South. . .

O. A. Bowe.

In March, 1834, Greeley, then 23, in company with Jonas Winchester, started ‘The New Yorker.’ “It was,” he says (writing in 1867), “a large, fair, and cheap weekly folio (afterward changed to a double quarto) , devoted mainly to current literature, but giving regularly a digest of all important news. . . The New Yorker was issued under my supervision, its editorials written, its selections made, for the most part, by me, for [page 25:] 7 1/2 years. . . It was, at length, extensively liked and read. It began with scarcely a dozen subscribers; these steadily increased to 9000, . . . but it was sent to subscribers on credit, and a large share of them never paid . . . while the cost of collecting from others ate up the proceeds. . . I worked hard and lived frugally during its existence.”

From his earliest youth, Greeley loved farming, for the moral and physical advantages connected with it, while he painfully realized, — as he had good cause to, — how difficult it was to gain even the barest living in a purely agricultural community. Hence his ingrained belief in the need of diversified industries, which could be gotten, he thought, only by means of protective taxes. So bred in the bone was this idea that, tho ‘The New Yorker’ claimed to be non-partisan, Thurlow Weed clearly perceived the editor’s bent. “In casting about for an editor [of a Protectionist campaign paper],” he says, “it occurred to me that there was some person connected with the ‘New Yorker’ possessing the qualities needed. In reading the ‘New Yorker’ I felt sure that its editor was a strong tariff man. . . I repaired to the office . . . and inquired for its editor. A young man with light hair and blond complexion, with coat off and sleeves rolled up, standing at the case, stick in hand, replied that he was the editor. This youth was Horace Greeley.”


New York, March 18, 1839.

R. W. Griswold, Esq. —

I say! I haven’t any good reason for writing to you at present; but there is an unanswered letter from you in the bottom of my hat, and a few minutes to spare before I must go to my dinner and the Daily Whig, so here goes: . . . Tour poem Ben swear he never received. Perhaps he did and perhaps he didn’t, but he loses things worse than I do, even. [page 26:]

You appear to have resolved to stick at Vergenues. Well, be it so; I rejoice that you find reason for so doing, but you could be much more serviceable in Essex. We want a smart paper in there. With such a one we could not have lost the District so shamefully. I could cry about it now. Some one who, like yourself could conciliate the Abolitionosts, with a little of the sagacity and discretion which I trust you are learning, would be invaluable there.

What will you do in Vermont about President?’ Anybody but Clay is out of the question; and yet his Abolition speech will, I fear, prove insuperable there. What is to be done? Run a Harrison ticket? I should terribly hate to see Vermont vote for Van Buren now: An apostacy to Toryism at its last gasp would be so besotted an act that I should have to forswear Vermont as my parent state and fall back upon New Hampshire. What can you do? I pray that as little as possible be risked in any event. I think this will be the best plan: Hold a strong Whig Convention and nominate an Electoral Ticket that will command public confidence; then let every Whig vote the ticket headed “For Pres’t: Wm. H. Harrison” or “Henry Clay,” as he shall prefer, and let the [men on the electoral] ticket be pledged to vote as the majority of the people shall decide. Wouldn’t that do? Please suggest it among your People. I wish Vermont could find it in her heart to vote for Clay, but at any rate she must not vote for Van Buren. Do let the matter be earnestly considered with a sincere desire on all hands to avert the great calamity.

As to our own prospects here (New Yorker) I hardly know what to Bay. Our subscription [list] is rather on the increase, but payments are slack still and we have rather hard sledding. We shall do better, I hope, now that the Rivers are opening and our New Volume commencing. I have had toil and anxiety enough with that paper to make it profitable some time, but I never expect to find it so. I would gladly sell my interest in it for a song, to any one who possessed talent and capital to carry it on.

I think better of my new pet, the Whig. I write the Editorial for that, and edit it generally. Don’t you think it’s better than formerly? If not it’s wretched bad, that’s a fact. It is rather gaining in patronage. . .

My wife has seen sorrow enough within the last year. Broken in health and borne down with dyspepsia for years, she sustained a severe injury before the birth of her child [who died in infancy], and was nearly killed when that birth took place. She has not yet recovered, but now lies helpless from cruel surgical operations (recent) by which she hopes to recover. [page 27:] She has to be lifted from bed to bed, but I trust will soon be about and hearty.

I mean to go West this summer, if I can possibly raise the funds. How that will be I cannot tell. I get nothing from the Yorker, as that never pays Editors a farthing, but Wilson gives me $12 a week to edit the Whig, and I live upon that. I have some hopes to get a little funds from the sale of the third quarter of the New Yorker; if so I’m off. . .

Yours truly,
H. Greeley.


[C: W: Everest was born in Conn, in 1814, and died there in 1877. His name, as that of a magazine poet, was familiar in the forties, but is not to be found in the ‘Library of American Literature.’]

Fayetteville, N. C., April 5, 1839. . . .

Here I am in North Carolina, engaged in the “delightful task” of thumping some faint “idea “ of Latin Grammar into the youthful skull. My “school” is comprised of 6 boys in all — two pupils besides, young gentlemen advanced, with whom I was acquainted at the North, and one of whom was in College with me. The duties, in all, engage me about seven hours in the day — and the situation is a pleasant one. . . I am in a charming family, and the society is good. As to the South, from what little I see of it, I like it very well — but have not much idea of becoming a Southerner. I am wedded to the hills and dales of my own New England. Warm skies, and evergreen woods, and singing birds are delightful, but the velvet turf — the swelling upland — the rolling river — and the rock and the mountain for me I Write mc soon — write me long — and believe me ever to remain. . .

C. W. Everest.


Richmond [Vermont], May 15, 1839.

My dear Griswold: —

. . . The Tories have of course expended their malignity in pitiful tilts and knowing quotations from your columns (perverted, of course), and seem to lay hold of the Argus lies with an avidity which manifests but too clearly how they feared and hated you, and how relieved they were by your departure. The fact is you have been an ever present thorn in the Bides of the Tories and some of the Whigs in this State. And you must of course expect the concentrated thunder of malediction from the whole corps of ragamuffin scribblers. . .

[E. A.] Stansbury.

[page 28:]

[Since the last date, Griswold, doubtless thro Greeley’s help, had gotten a place on the ‘The Daily Whig.’

At the time of the incident referred to, Greeley (aged 17) was an apprentice in the office of a paper published in Poultney; he writes of it, in his ‘Recollections,’ as follows: — “Our paper was intensely Adams and Clay in the Presidential struggle of 1828, and our whole community sympathized with its preference. The defection of our State’s foremost politician. Governor Cornelius P. Van Ness, after he had vainly tried, while professing to be an Adams man, to vault from the Governor’s chair into the U. S. Senate, created a passing ripple on the face of the current, but did not begin to stem it.” Van Ness received the reward of his treachery in the appointment, March, 1829, as envoy to Spain, which he held eight years. In 1844-45 he was collector of New-York. He died 16 Dec., 1862.]

Richmond [Vermont], June 13, 1839.

Dear Griswold:

. . .I am pleased to perceive that you have “lighted” on an Editorship so adroitly, and cannot but congratulate you on having relinquished a precarious country hebdominal for the more steadfast and dependable daily which now claims the fruits of your quill. . . That old Renegade C. P. Van Ness came here yesterday, and all the faithful turned out in shoals to salute him — guns were fired — speeches made, and a fearful fuss created — and all for the man who went over to a corrupt party, as it were to take vengeance on his native state, for refusing to gratify the immediate wants of his grasping ambition I and then disgraced the nation . . . for twd or three years after he was recalled as ambassador! Shame, I say, on such cursed proceedings. He will do now for a ‘Vanite’ of the first water.


The publication of ‘The Brother Jonathan’ was begun by Wilson & Co., 1 July, 1839, with Benjamin as editor and Griswold as his assistant. It was a paper of only four pages, but occasionally these were of immense size. ‘The Tattler’ was a daily issued under the same management. Before long the editors had some difficulty with the publisher which causd [page 29:] them to withdraw, and they induced Winchester to start rivals both of the weekly and the daily paper under the names of ‘The New World’ and ‘The Signal.’ The two weeklies differed from Greeley’s paper in that they were more exclusively literary; but only an insignificant part of their contents was original. After 1841 and 1840 they appeared in quarto and “library” editions.

Burlington, July 20, 1839.

My dear Griswold:

The first intimation I had of your whereabouts determined me to write to you: lacking time just then, I delayed it for a few days, when the arrival of the “Tattler” called my resolution to mind; and the subsequent reception of that up-to-the-sky-to-be-lauded, biggest-of-all-possible-newspapers, and most beloved of all brethren, “Brother Jonathan” made me resolve “in the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious for such things” to despatch an epistle to your address about the quickest. How dd you flourish? How I would like to shake your dexter, and see you shake your sides, as of old! And wouldn’t I like to ramble over your Library again, and hear you tell your stories and talk scandal as is your wont? “O! no certainly not”! How on airth do you expect to find matter enough to keep Brother Jonathan alive for any length of time I He is even infinitely more rapacious than other Yankees. In the course of about a year you will have published all that has ever been written: and at the same rate in just about another year you will get through with all that you can write: and then what will do? The appearance of this hugest of mammoths caused no small stir among the good citizens of this unaccustomed-to-large-sights seeing place. Winslow (he of the Sentinel) was in the P. O. when I received it: and you would have laughed to have listened to his exclamations as I unfolded the sheet to his wonder struck eyes, and announced old Rufus W., of the Vermonter, as Editor. He ended his outburst by this sober sentiment: “Well,” said he, “no one can deny that Griswold is talented and industrious: but he is too d — d unscrupulous! — You were not very scrupulous in your notices of the Burlington Sentinel! — Stacy’s eyes stuck out just one mile. And Harrington’s too: you ought to have seen him. — The copy you sent me has been the rounds of the College. A deputation from each class of 10 made an attack upon it in [page 30:] full and solid phalanx, aud after a hard siege of 10 hours retired from the field and encamped for the night. The battle was renewed at daybreak with increased vigor and proportionate success. And now we are waiting for another number. Please to consider me a subscriber. — Stansbury has not been here since the 4th of July. He will not stay away long, however: for there is a certain pair of gold spectacles here that fit his eyes exactly. He wants to get them: you recollect the Yankee that (on a wager) would sell his house for a penny, but the buyer must take his cat for $100. There’s just such a fixture to Ed’s spectacles; I guess he’ll take both and be content with the bargain. (The comparison is not good but ‘twill do). — What an abominably stupid thing the Vermonter is now! Pierpont and Grandey, I think, write most of the Editorials. — Grandey has not shown himself this long time. . .

College matters jog on with their usual monotony. Our Commencement happens the 6th Aug. We are expecting something worth while in the way of an oration before our Societies from Prof. Taylor Lewis of your University. We received a letter from your friend J. G. Whittier declining the invitation to deliver a poem on account of his health, he spoke of an intention to visit Europe soon. I think the probability is that Park Benjamin will be asked to give us a Poem next year. I hope he will come. He would do it up in style and could be depended upon. Immediately after Commencement you may expect Mann and myself in New York. We shall stay two or three days and we hope to see you as often as your leisure will permit. Have you any part of that collection of American poetry under your control yet? By the way, who wrote that article on American Poetry in the Democratic Review? I thought it essentially heterodox.

Geo. Combe and Lady and Thad. Stevens passed through here a few days since towards Boston. Thad. is a fine looking man, but Combe is a Scotchman. (Vide Dr. Johnson for the inference.) Your old and tried friend A . . . C . . . is about town as usual with his habitual mahogany countenance. He swears occasionally about you. We expelled him from the Phi Sigma Nu Society on account of his Washington scrape. H . . . A . . . corroborated all your allegations. May I depend upon you for an introduction to Benjamin and some other of your N. Y. worthies? Bishop Hopkins returned from England with an empty pocket. He expected to raise about 160,000 and got some 5,000 1 ‘Tis said that he will be obliged to sell his establishment. Oar University lately had a donation of some 20,000 from one Mr. Williams in the eastern part of Vermont. Harrington and all your friends send their [page 31:] respects. Can not you send me a few lines in return by Mr Weaver? I am ever,

Yours sincerely,
H. J. Raymond.


Burlington, Vt., Oct. 31, 1839.

My dear Griswold: —

I have long had it in mind to write you an epistle: but the lack of anything special to make a letter interesting, in conjunction with a lack of time, has hitherto prevented me from putting this sufficiently laudable resolution into practice. But a truce to apologies, both for not having written before and for writing now. So you are out of ‘The Tattler’ and are now [pitching] into it, daily, christening your shots, a la militaire, “evening signals.” Well I go head — marte virtute, (don’t laugh at the aproposness of the “ablative of manner”). What the deuce should put it into the heads of you and Benjamin to cast your own bantling, the youngest and at the same time the smartest of your children, upon the parish, and actually to commence so deadly a warfare upon it, I am at a loss to imagine. Mann has told me that ‘twas in consequence of a difference with Wilson [the publisher]: and I presume you had ample reason for cutting loose. I own that upon first learning of your change, I feared the issue of it. I feared that any new paper, however well conducted, would hardly be able to strike the public, so exactly to a T., as the Brother Jonathan had done: and to step in ahead of it and to undertake to turn the current of favor from its deepening channel into your own way, I thought was an attempt, which, for any other men than you two, would have been hopeless. But one might as well try to stop the devil himself, as either of you, when fairly under way: who then shall hinder you when united? Go ahead I tell Mr. Columbus that he may go the devil with his New World; and as for Bro. Jonathan and Co. when you once get upon the same ground as to your country circulation, you may tell them to follow Columbus. I honestly think ‘The New World’ the handsomest and the best paper of the kind I ever saw. Long may it wear the crown! . . .

What a mass of the most unmitigated stupidity the ‘Boston Notion’ inflicts upon the unoffending community, weekly! The man who superintends its deliverance into the world ought to be hung, for producing an abortion. There’s a frog trying to ‘come’ the ox, for you. Heaven grant it may burst! I am sorry that Benjamin has left the New Yorker. If he had exerted himself but a little he could have made that, infinitely the [page 32:] best weekly in the U. S. Who [sic] will Greeley associate with him? I hope (but do not expect), that he will get one to fill B’s place. The ‘Sentinel’ here a few weeks since undertook to use up Benjamin instanter and the New-Yorker with him, on account of his critique of Irving. — I gave it a decent rap for it in the Free Press, and since that they have let B. alone and gone to pomelling me I If the author was not quite so great an ass, I’d have some fun with him: If they say another word about Ben. I’ll mount them. I believe that stupendous nincompoop Houghton (who used to write /or the Yermonter) is the valiant Philistine! — . . . Stansbury was rejoiced to learn of your ddings among the people of Gotham. He is a capital fellow; full of fun, and, latterly, of politics. The rise of Locofocoism in Vermont has inspired him with the most ardent hatred to everything that looks that way. Van Ness is making a fool of himself by spending his time in electioneering. He has been over the whole state, and is making desperate exertions. What can be his object? You know what a capital manager Harry Bradley is. He is’going at it’ soon, and says that “Slade for Gov.” will sweep Vermont from one end to the other at the next trial. They hope to prevail on him to stand. I dd not know where Woodbridge is: he left college some time since. Roberts still carries on the Vermonter. If we are to be bored with it forever, I shall almost regret that you ever started. When ‘twas young it was a child not to be ‘sneezed at,’ but it has lost every glimmer of its ‘original brightness’ and is now behind the Free Press or even the Sentinel. Do you remember that Dictionary you used to covet so much at Goodrich’s bookstore? I think I could get it for you at a moderate price, though I cannot say for how much. If you want it, let me know, and I’ll negotiate for you. Do you see much of Mann? He is one of the finest fellows that ever lived: when you know him well you’ll say the same. Can you make him write for your ‘Signal’? So Jim Otis has at last reached the acme of his ambition, a place at the Tattler’s Editorial table I Is it true that he is writing a life of Gen. Scott? If it is, it seems to me they might have made a better choice. Mann says that you talk of starting a Monthly: can you make it go? How soon will Benjamin’s Poems be out? I long to get a sight at them. If Greeley will let me I’ll tell the public what ‘The New Yorker’ thinks of Benjamin. Who the deuce is the Gent, in the C. Colored coat? Benjamin himself isn’t he? I have written you a sheet of devilish nonsense, but I cannot afford to try at another, so you must be content with this for the present. . .

Yours truly,
H. J. Raymond.

[page 33:]

Mr. R. H. Stoddard gives the following account of the enterprise to which Mr. White devoted his life. He died 19 Jan. 1843.

“There were [then] no periodicals that were worth speaking of. Mr. N. P. Willis had commenced the ‘American Monthly Magazine’ four or five years before, but it was now merged into the ‘New York Mirror’ . . . Mr. Charles Fenno Hoffman had commenced the ‘Knickerbocker Magazine’ the previous year (1838), and had edited a few numbers of it when it passed into the hands of the Rev. Timothy Flint. . . There may have been other ventures whose names have dropped out of our literary history, but these, with two or three heavy quarterlies, the ‘North American Review,’ the ‘Christian Examiner,’ and so on, represented the periodical literature of the country. It was doubtless honorable to write for them, but it was certainly not profitable, for the prices which they paid (when they paid at all) , would hardly have satisfied the copyists of the authors’ manuscripts; there was more money in the legal narratives of John Doe and Richard Roe than in the dissertations of the ‘North American Review,’ whose honorarium for years was two dollars per printed page. It was not a propitious season for writers, as I have said, and it could not be considered a very promising one for publishers. So it seems to us now, but so it did not seem to Mr. Thomas W. White, a printer of Richmond, who projected a new magazine — a magazine which should represent the literature of the South, which so far had escaped recognition in the magazines of the East. He was not encouraged by his friends, we are told, but being a determined man, he refused to be discouraged, and set resolutely to work to obtain the endorsement of some [page 34:] of the leading authors of America. . . It is instructive to turn from the American magazines of today, popular or otherwise, to the first number of the ‘Southern Literary Messenger,’ which Mars the date of August, 1834, and the imprint of T. W. White, Printer and Proprietor. It consisted of 32 double-column octavo pages, and its subscription price was $5. I am not prepared to say that it was worse than the average periodical literature of the time, but it was pretty bad, though it contained a piece of verse by Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney — “Columbus at the University of Salamanca” — and Mr. Richard Henry Wilde’s best known lyric, “My life is like the summer rose,” the authorship of which was attributed to, though not fixed upon him. It contained, also, a number of dull book-notices, the perfunctory work of some unintelligent hack-writer. Two months passed before the second number appeared, and it could hardly be said to be superior to its predecessor. Mrs. Sigourney contributed another poem, “Death among the Trees,” and Mr. William Wirt a “Letter to a Law Student.” Unintelligent hack furnished a dull notice of Bulwer’s “Pilgrims of the Rhine,” and padded it out with an extract seven or eight pages in length. The third number, which was extended to 64 pages, was instructive, if not entertaining. The pièce de resistance was the first of a series of papers on the ‘Present Condition of Tripoli;’ the side-dishes were a ‘Letter from a Virginian in New England,’ [the first of a series afterwards printed by J. R. Lowell in the Atlantic in ignorance that they had been published] and an article on Mr. N. P. Willis (copied from the ‘Norfolk Beacon’); the dessert was a sonnet on Byron, attributed (and justly) to Mr. Wilde. . . By whatever standard it was measured, it was a failure, as anyone but Mr. [page 35:] White would have seen, and as he probably saw, though he determined to continue it. He had not been sustained by the leading writers of America, further than by their good wishes, for not one of them had contributed a line to the luckless periodical. Among those who had promised to do so, was Mr. Kennedy, who, early in the winter of 1835, recommended Poe to him as a contributor.”

Richmond, Va., Nov. 23, 1839.

My dear Sir:

Mr. Greeley has recommended that I take from you an article . . . for my January Messenger. Much as I should like to have such a contribution from your pen, I shall be obliged to forego the pleasure, unless you choose to present the MS. to me. to confess the truth, I am confoundedly hard run — and, what is still worse, I am confoundedly in debt. This is the plain, unvarnished truth.

Th. W. White.


Richmond , Va., Dec. 23, 1838.

My dear Friend:

I am in great trouble today, — greater than I could give you any idea of, even if I were disposed to lay my sorrows and my grievances at your feet. But I will go ahead at all hazards. God alone shall break me down. Man cannot dd it.

It grieves me to hear you say that you cannot make a living in New-York, and that you must go “somewhere where bread is to be earned.” I wish I was so situated that I could offer you a good living. But my hands are tied, as it were, for the present. The friends that I would serve, and have around me, I cannot. I know your capacity — I know that you have fine talents — and I know that you are a hard-working, brave man. And, if it were possible, I would have you here tdmorrow.

Your article on the “Rights of Authors” is a strong piece of composition. No man living can controvert your arguments. It is thought, from beginning to end.

I wish you, my dear fellow, to set to work about another piece for me. Choose any subject you please — and get it to me as soon as possible.

. . . I am unable to write. My head aches to desperation, and my heart is filled almost to overflowing with sorrows.

Your Friend,
T. W. White.

[page 36:]

A glimpse of Griswold at this date is given in the Recollections of J. Keese published in his son’s biography: —

“. . . The next figure coming before the mind’s eye from the grouping of one of these notable evenings, belongs to a man who during many years created and endured as much excitement connected with the world of literature as any other who could be named. Rufus Wilmot Griswold, ex-minister of the gospel, editor and literary worker in general, to whom the country really owed much, for a considerable period, and who was treated by that country more than a trifle irregularly before his death, as he has been, since that event, with a blending of neglect and captiousness. Mr. Griswold, at the time under notice, was about twenty-five years old, and had produced as yet very little work in the world of letters. . . He was a man of rather small figure, a very intelligent face, with the eyes deepset, good forehead showing an early inclination to the loss of front hair, sharp and trenchant nose, short, full beard and moustache, and a habit of holding down the head a trifle and looking keenly out from beneath the overhanging brows, not a little impressive when he was very much in earnest. Never profound, Mr. Griswold had a large fund of current intelligence, and was an exceptionally interesting talker, as possibly he had been a speaker of corresponding caliber. He was at that time connected with Horace Greeley’s ‘New Yorker’. . . It was a little-later that he became editor of ‘Graham’s Magazine,’ doing more than any American had previously done to draw around a single publication the labor of the best thinkers of the country, and ably seconded, in doing so, by the far-seeing liberality of the publisher, Mr. George R. Graham, really the father of American magazines of the first class . . . From 1842 [page 37:] till the time of his death, he was laboriously engaged in a series of compilations requiring that industry and that persistence of which he had so much, and demanding little of that absolute talent and that ripe scholarship, in both of which he was deficient. That Rufus Wilmot Griswold . . . did great and meritorious services to our growing literature, and assisted in fostering many writers, who, without his encouragement, would hopelessly have laid down the pen, there is no question whatever; and it is something of a privilege, now that he has already been dead for nearly a quarter of a century, to call back, however dimly, his presence, and bear even this slight testimony to his labors.”


Albany, Feb. 17, 1840.

Rufus W. Griswold, Esq.

I understand by the last Tattler that yon have abandoned Boston and returned to New York — very good. Very well: I write to say that I shall probably want you the coming season, if your services are purchasable, as I believe they generally are. I do not wish you to forego any good offer you ma? have or receive; but I shall probably be glad to hire your services from the first of May (probably sooner) to the first of December next if they can be had on reasonable terms. My plans may fail; but I should like to know how you stand at present. Address me a line on the receipt of this, defining your position.

H. Greeley.

Please state what you will ask me per week for the time above mentioned. Don’t get in any more scrapes till I come down, which will be the first Saturday after the River opens.

H. G.


New York, Apr. 26 [1840.]

My dear Fields,

I now “do” the New Yorker, under a two year’s engagement, in place of Hoffman. Greeley comes out next week with a “Log Cabin” paper, to which he intends to devote his entire attention, until the autumn election at least. . . I am going on with my plans relative to “American Poetry” heretofore expressed. [page 38:]


Albany, [June?], 1840.

R. W. Griswold:

I wanted to see you Friday night bad; why did you [word omitted] Swartwout? You must have known it would embarrass me.

Please take care and save the articles I left out on my table; among others, one containing an abstract of a speech of Hon. Elisha Whittlesey which I want to go inside in this week’s Log (bourgeois). Also one on Gen. Harrison’s poverty and its causes, which save carefully, as I want to make an Editorial out of it. Some others ditto. I shall try to be down on Wednesday morning. . . The last Yorker was a very fair number, bating typographical errors, such as ‘Dugal’ for ‘Dugald’ Stuart, which is awful, as Insinuating ignorance against us. I saw ‘From whence,’ in your own verse, too. Don’t you know that is shocking, — positively shocking! . . .

H. Greeley.


Richmond, Va., June 9, 1840.

My dear Sir:

. . . It pleases me much to learn that you think well of my pet. I know not what to say about receiving your labors. to take them Without some remuneration, I will not. And, on the other hand, I am really so heavily in debt, that I dare not offer you such encouragement as I should like to do, if I were not so much under the [illegible]. But, throwing all this aside, if you choose to give me your labors for $1.50 per page, Bourgeois type, — and $2.00 for the Minion page, why, in that case, I say “go ahead!” And even at these rates, my dear friend [you] will have to be most patient with me. Indeed you will be obliged to suffer me to take my own time to pay you this pittance. But pay you, eventually, I assuredly will.

I am glad to learn that you are connected with Mr. Greeley — you could not have made a better selection. He is exactly a man after my own heartnoble, Onerous and brave. I know not his superior anywhere. And as for his talents, they are of the highest and most useful kind. . .

I am sick of hard work — sick of this dog’s life; — and yet strange to say, I believe I should go to the dogs if I did not lead this more than slavish life. Adieu I my dear fellow.

Th. W. White.

[page 39:]

Linnville, Laba Bay [Texas], July 80, 1840.

Dear Brother,

. . . The Mexican federalists are still encamped on the Rio Grande. They appear to me more like a band of marauders than an army fighting for the liberty of their country. Many who had great confidence in their success begin to lose that confidence, and many who would have joined their standard two months since now look upon them as unworthy the confidence of any one. . .

Ever your friend and Brother,
S. P. Griswold.


Passo de Cabello, Aug. 16, 1840.

My dear Brother:

Ere this reaches you I presume you will have heard of the destruction of Linnville on Labaca Bay, and as I have dated my letters to you from that place I hasten to inform you of my safety and the facts so far as they have come to my knowledge of the affair.

On the morning of the 8th inst. a party of Indians were discovered about 2 or 2 1/2 miles from the town forming in order of attack; our first impression was that it was a part of the Mexican Federal Army, coming to that place for supplies, but on taking a view of them through a glass and observing their numbers, a man was despatched to meet them and ascertain whether they were friends or foes, he had advanced about 1/4 mile when the advanced guard filed off and in 4 minutes we were completely surrounded by land, and all chance of escape save by water cut off. All made their escape but two whites and three negroes by taking the Boats. Three whites were killed, — Major Watts, the collector of the Port of Labaca, a Mr. Owen [?] and a man whosename is not recollected. And Madam Watts taken prisoner. Three Blacks are missing. Soon after the Indians had possession of the town they commenced burning the town, one building at a time. We lay in sight until the last building was burned, which was done about 9 P. M. — from Linnville they made their way again for the mountains by way of Victoria which they attacked twice, and were both times repulsed — from that place they were closely pursued by the Texians and were once whipped with considerable loss. From the last accounts from the army in pursuit, the Texians were 700 strong in view with parties on both flanks and the Major General Felix Huston with about 200 Regulars at a narrow pass to the mountains to which they were making. From the last Express their [page 40:] destruction is almost inevitable. Should they be cut off, western towns will be safe from any further invasion. The number that took Linnville was not less than 8 nor more than 12 hundred men — they were led by Mexicans or Indians. . . All that was saved was what we had on our backs. My loss was not less than four and I fear not less than eight thousand dollars, but it was made in Texas. I am now destitute, all I have is my land and credit, one thing 1 have to console, that is, I am out of debt. Since the fight I have had no regular sleep. I am nearly used up. I leave here in a few hours for the Lavaca and Victoria. . .

God be with you and yours,
S. Parsons Griswold.


“I have already,” wrote Bayard Taylor in 1871, “seen one generation [of poets] forgotten, and I fancy I now see the second slipping the cables of their craft, and making ready to drop down stream with the ebb tide. I remember, for instance, that in 1840 there were many well-known and tolerably popular names which are never heard now. Byron and Mrs. Hemans then gave the tone to poetry, and Scott, Bulwer and Cooper to fiction. Willis was by all odds the most popular American author; Longfellow was not known by the multitude, Emerson was only ‘that Transcendentalist,’ and Whittier ‘that Abolitionist.’ We young men used to talk of Rufus Dawes, and Charles Fenno Hoffman, and Grenville Mellen, and Brainard and Sands. Why we even had a hope that something wonderful would come out of Chivers! . . . Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, of Georgia, author of ‘Virginalia,’ ‘The Lost Pleiad,’ ‘Facets of Diamond’ and ‘Eonchs of Ruby,’ also of ‘Nacoochee, the Beautiful Star,’ and there was still another volume, six in all!* The British Museum has the only complete set of his works. . . I remember a stanza of his ‘Rosalie Lee’: — [page 41:]

Many mellow Cydonian suckets,

Sweet apples, anthosmial, divine,

From the ruby-rimmed beryline buckets

Star-gemmed, lily-shaped, hyaline;

Like the sweet golden goblet found growing

On the wild emerald cucumber-tree,

Rich, brilliant, like chrysoprase glowing,

Was my beautiful Rosalie Lee.’

The refrain of a poem called ‘The Poet’s Vacation’ was: — In the music of the moms,

Blown through the Conchimarian horns,

Down the dark vistas of the reboantic Norns,

To the Genius of Eternity

Crying ‘Come to me! Come to me!’ ”

Dr. Chivers, according to a statement made to me by one of his daughters, was born at Washington, Georgia, in 1807, and died at Decatur, Georgia, in 1858. Having inherited wealth, however, he practiced but little. “While in Springfield, Mass., [page 42:] he fell in love with a Yankee girl sixteen years old. They traveled from one place to another, New York, Boston, New Haven, etc.” This second marriage probably took place about 1850. In 1853-54 Chivers dwelt in or near Boston and was a frequent contributor to ‘The Waverley Magazine’ and ‘The Literary Museum.’ It is singular that not only Richardson’s and the minor histories of American literature ignore Chivers, but that even L . . [[sic]] Manly’s book, which is devoted exclusively to Southern authors, does the same.

I insert a letter from Chivers to Poe, since it illustrates the spirit of the time, and shows that the influence of transcendentalism was not limited to New-England and “The Tribune.” Chivers’ style is here tame and commonplace, having little of the verbal effulgence which later distinguished it, when, even in prose, it unconsciously surpassed the efforts of those most skilful in burlesque. Aside from his poetical pretensions, Chivers seems to have been a person worthy of great respect. His verses appeared in some of the best periodicals of the day, and if we may trust the extracts quoted by the publishers of his ‘Eonchs of Ruby’ he was not entirely without appreciation on the part of the critics. Here is the advertisment as it appeared in ‘The Literary World’: —

Eonchs of Ruby.

A Gift of Love.

By T. H. Chivers, M. D.

Opinions of the Press.

“We might quote passages of even beauty throughout the book — passages replete with the loveliest developments of the divine poetic idea in the man’s soul. From his harp proceed [page 43:] master strains, which seem struck out often in a sort of Pythonic delirium.” — Message Bird.

“ ‘The Eonchs of Ruby’ is a treasure of classic and sublime poetry — a rara avis of a rich and ardent imagination. The author’s ideas partake more of the celestial than of the terrestrial; and many of the best productions of this book are dedicated to beings who were once dear to him in life, but who were called away in the flower of their age to enjoy a world more glorious and perfect than this miserable earth. These lamentations of an afflicted parent, so charmingly and. truthfully expressed, may truly be called superior to anything of the kind ever written by any American or English poet.” — From L’Eco d’ Italia.

The New York Quarterly, however, took a somewhat different tone: —

“The quaint conceits of these title pages [Nos. 6 and 7] are a warning of the affectation and absurdity which nestle within the covers of the present astounding volumes. Such a farrago of pedantry, piety, blasphemy, sensuality, and delirious fancies has seldom before gained the imprint of a respectable publisher. If the reader can imagine the fusion of the Hebrew Prophets, Solomon’s Song, Jacob Bohme, Edgar A. Poe, Anacreon, Catullus, Coleridge, and Isaac Watts into one seething, simmering caldron of abominations, he may form some idea of these fantastic monstrosities. The prose run mad in the prefaces prepares for the demoniac-celestial-bestial character of the poety [[poetry]].”

The editor of ‘The Knickerbocker’ paid his respects to the work as folios: —

“We have read a little book of poems by a Mr. Chivers [page 44:] (what a crisp, sparkling name!) which is a casket over-brimming with the most incomparable gems that ever sparkled in Heaven’s light. The author remarks in his preface, which is itself a prosaic bewilderment of all that is most precious in the verbal domain: ‘As the diamond is the crystalline Revelator of the acromatic white light of Heaven, so is a perfect poem the crystalline revelation of the Divine Idea. There is just the difference between a pure poem and one that is not, that there is between the spiritual concretion of a diamond and the mere glaciation of water into ice. For as the irradiancy of a diamond depends upon its diaphanous translucency, so does the beauty of a poem upon its rythmical crystallization of the Divine Idea.’ We concur with the author in these views, although we never had the power to express them. A single verse from Mr. Chivers will show that be does not lay down principles by which he is not himself guided: —

On the beryl-rimmed rebecs of Ruby

Brought fresh from the hyaline streams,

She played on the banks of the Yuba

Such songs as she heard in her dreams,

Like the heavens when the stars from their eyries

Look down through the ebon night air,

Where the groves by the Ouphantic Fairies

Lit up for my Lily Adair,

For my child-like Lily Adair,

For my heaven-born Lily Adair,

For my beautiful, dutiful Lily Adair.

There is immortality in these verses “unless immortality is ‘a figment.’ ”

No. 47, Canal Street, N. Y., Aug. 27th, 1840.

Dear Sir, —

I received your letter this evening, containing a Prospectus of the “Penn Magazine,” which you intend publishing in the City of Philadelphia. [page 45:] My absence from the City, among the emerald highlands of the beautiful Hudson, prevented my answering it sooner than to-day. In answer to your solicitation for my support for the forthcoming Journal, I must say that I am much pleased with your “Prospectus” — the plan which you have in view — and hope sincerely that you may realize all your anticipations. As it regards myself , I will support you as long as you may continue the Editor of the above-named work. In the Paradise of Literature, I do not know one better calculated than yourself to prune the young scions of their exuberant thoughts. In some instances, let me remark, you seemed to me to lay aside the pruning-knife for the tomahawk, and not only to lop off the redundant limbs, but absolutely to eradicate the entire tree. In such cases there is no hope of its ever afterwards bearing any fruit. In surgical operations we always use a sharp knife, and wish to be as expeditious as possible; but we never go so far as to cut away so much of a part as to endanger the vitality of the whole. If we find, as in cases of gangrene, that the vital part is so affected that an operation would be unsafe, we then choose to let the patient die a natural death, rather than hasten it by our surgical art. I have seen a little sapling transplanted before now, which had every appearance of dying until it had undergone a gentle pruning and watering, when, to the astonishment of the Gardener, it towered above all the rest in the grove, and remained a living monument of his skill and kind attention. The same thing is true in regard to the literary world. Bad treatment to the human economy will make a chronic disease sooner than a functional one, [and] by its own process, will terminate in organic derangement.

I consider the publication of such a work as you have suggested infinitely above any other undertaking. There can be no equivalent given to a man for the payment of divine thought. It is as far above every other consideration as the soul is more immortal. He who has never wandered amid the hibyrinthine vistas of the flower-gemed solitudes of thought knows nothing of the capabilities of the soul in its aspirations after the Beautiful in Natural Truth, which it, thereby, perceives will be fully manifested to it, in all its glory, in the enjoyment of the Hereafter. He knows nothing of that delightful Eden which remains immortal in the soul, whose flowers are the amaranths of celestial thought. The fruit of the ignorant seems sweet to the eye, but “turns to ashes on the lips.” The garden of literature, to the wise, is a “Paradise Regained” wherein his thoughts, like the swan of Socrates, can soar up to the celestial regions, and become the soul’s heralds of the divine To-come. For, as thought is the offspring of the spiritual, which is [page 46:] but the unfolding of the soul to itself, — as the disporting of the bud is but the display of its many folds, at the same time that it gives out its fragrance — whereby it becomes cognizant of the external world — so, the more it knows of the spiritual, the more it assimilates itself to the Author of its Spirituality.

What do you think of the “Dial”? The Boston papers have attempted to criticise it; but they have failed entirely. As we all bear definite relations to the external world, so language is the manifestation of these relations. But if we never made use of language in any other sense, we should never soar up from the palpable and the material, to the impalpable, spiritual, and immaterial — which, I think, is one of the chief provinces of human thought. This, the materialist would call “Transcendentalism.” Well, let him call it so — he has no better name for it. And what is it, after all? It is taking the swan of thought, which has floated on the crystalline waters of the familiar in this world, and giving it wings, whereby it may ascend into the regions of the unfamiliar, and there, in that divine altitude become the recipient of that lore which is the harmony of the Angels. All our knowledge comes from the relations which subsist between us and the external world. And wliat is Revelation but Transcendentalism? It is the effect of inspiration. What then is inspiration, if it is not a power given to the soul to recognize the beautiful of a truth which is transcendent in its nature, when compared with other truths? We may convey the idea of a heavenly truth by an earthly one — that is, we may make an earthly truth the representative of a truth beyond expression. This shows the power of language. This shows that language has a higher office than to manifest the relations which subsist between us and the external world — although all our knowledge comes therefrom. We may express the existence of a truth which is beyond expression. We do this whenever we attempt to explain the attributes of God. You see with what presumption vultures will aspire to the dignity of angels. I do not mean by this that everything which the “Dial” asserts is true. Far from it. But I do mean that its sapient Critics know nothing of the power of language in the reflection of ideas, which are the twilight presence of God living in the soul. They know nothing of anything but what amounts to nothing. All that is invisible is spiritual, and all that is spiritual is lasting; and all that is lasting is alone valuable.

You must excuse this digression, for I had no idea of wandering so far into the meanderings of metaphysic thought, when I commenced. In conclusion, therefore, let me assure you that I will do everything in my power to benefit you in the progression of your forthcoming work — hoping, [page 47:] at the same time, that your life may be long and prosperous, and that yon may enjoy in this world all the pleasures that wealth can purchase and fancy can invent.

Yours very truly,
Thos. H. Chivers.


[The B: Franklin Butler here mentioned was attorney-general under Jackson and Van Buren. The letter was addressed to Greeley.]

Richmond, Va., Oct. 80, 1840.

My Dear Friend:

Be so good as to have the enclosed bill sent to B. F. Butler, Esq. for collection. I presume it will be paid at sight, he is not drove as we poor devils of printers are. Oh no, he has indeed luxuriated on the loaves and fishes. Seeing his claim is fixed I presume he will discontinue.

I regret to tell you, — and I assure you I utter the truth — I regret to tell you that I am not near so well off, in pecuniary matters, as I was when we last shook hands. It is useless to speculate on the causes — it is enough for me to know that the fact is so. . .

Your Mr. Griswold is certainly a very excellent writer, as he is a gentlemanly man. . .

Your friend,
T. W. White.


Richmond, Va., Oct. 80, 1840.

My Dear Friend:

I duly received your favor of 2d inst., and honestly assure you that I would have replied to it long since, if I could have spared the time. The truth is, my dear fellow, I am, I fear, a bad manager, and possibly a worse economist. Instead of working myself out of difficulties, I seem to [have] created a new batch of them in the past 12 months: — and Just now I am particularly beset,- particularly annoyed. Still I am nothing daunted, — and I mean to push my barque, frail and weak though she be, ahead, at all hazards. If I perish, I perish — that’s all. . .


[Griswold went to Philadelphia to become editor of The Daily Standard.]

New York, Nov. 29, 1840.

R. W. Griswold,

Man, what’s your hurry? I got home this morning expecting tft find you here these two days, or till Monday evening at least; but behold! [page 48:] you are off these two days! Well, it will all do; but I would have liked to see you anyhow. I calculated to spend this afternoon up at your place, and was rather disappointed in having no pretext for so doing.

Well, you are off, and I suppose you will stay till it suits your oonreiiience to return. But let me hear from you anyhow. I talked with [O.] Roberts about you yesterday for some time. R. is rather in a quandary. Purdy and young Haughton are going to start an opposition, to be called The Daily Mail, and Purdy has left Roberts. R. talked with me about you, and concluded that you were the right chap to assume the principal tragical business in his concern. I thought you would have no objection to an extra string to your bow, so I encouraged him in it. I doubt not you are well situated as you are, yet I think you may as well write a frank, kindly letter to Roberts, stating that you are now fast, but if you happen to get loose you will be glad to go with him. That can do no harm, anyhow.

I wish you would write me each Wednesday evening a Junk of ‘Literary Intelligence’ . . . But you have a good place where you are — don’t jeopard it to serve anybody.

H. Greeley.


Log and Yorker, N. York, Dec. 3, 1840.


I believe there is a chance to send you a line today without cost; and I embrace it for three purposes.

1. You need not send me any Literary Notices, such as I have begged of you. I have engaged Raymond, temporarily, though hardly able to do so, and have now two assistants. Of course, we ought to be a whole team, take us altogether, and must do.

2. I want to thank you for the excellent manner in which the outside of the New Yorker was done up during the two weeks I was away. It could hardly have been better.

3. I want to curse you for going off so abruptly as you did, without leaving any directions. It has ruined The New Yorker for this week — dead as a hatchet. Raymond is a good fellow, but utterly destitute of experience or knowledge of where magazines, etc. are to be procured, as you well knew. He says he asked you about magazines, and you told him we could not have any more than we then had, — Blackwood and Dublin. So he went to work as a novice would, shears in first, and cut out the most infernal lot of newspaper trash ever seen. He got in type a column of ‘Lord Chatham,’ which [page 49:] you published a month ago; three or four column articles of amazing antiquity and stupidity, and then gave out an original translation of a notorious story — which I fear we have once published — three columns and over of this, for a magazine week! Thus The New Yorker is doomed for this week, and you are to blame for it. You are habitually reckless of whatever is not likely to subserve your future purposes.

Gris, you must reform this altogether.

H. Greeley.


30 Ann Street, Saturday, [5 Dec., 1840.]

My dear Griswold: —

I have taken it into my head to write to you, although I have nothing special to write about. So you may make up your mind to endure the affliction of an epistle, which may not pay you for the trouble of wading through it. Let me warn you, however, not to bum it unread; cause vy — the best part will be towards the latter end.

I believe I told you that Greeley had written to Roberts to see if he Wanted me in the [Boston] Times office. I have not yet received any answer, and therefore know nothing of the prospect. Have you had any opportunity to make enquiries about the Philadelphia Weeklies? — I understood that a writer was wanted for the [Saturday] Evening Post there; know you ought of this? I should much prefer being in Philadelphia to pitching my tent in Boston — especially in the Times office. . .

. . . Greeley wants to write to you, so I’ll stop my yarn and let him occupy the rest of the sheet.

As ever, thine truly,
H. J. Raymond.


New York, Dec. 5, 1840.

Dr. Gris:

My Book of Political Returns (which you mainly made up) is not to be found. We need it. Do you know anything about it?

Also, Herbert’s articles on Mrs. Hemans and Fragment of a Play. I cannot Imagine what has become of them. Can you help us find them?

I am doing pretty well on the Log, only It is a stormy day to-day, and we shall sell next to none in the City. But we are getting in a good list from the Country. Thank you for your offer to help sell the Science of Numbers. It is an excellent work, and I am interested in it. . .

H. Greeley.

[page 50:]

The title of the work of Bryant mentioned below is Selections from the American Poets by William Cullen Bryant: New York, Harpers; 1 vol., 316 pp., 18°. Raymond wrote of it: —

“Six short poems are given from Jones Very, and this a greater number than we have from the works of any other of the 78 authors introduced into this collection. . . Eleven pages are given to Wilcox, but two and a half to Longfellow. . . Elizabeth Park has twelve pages, Mrs. Sigoumey five, and Maria Davidson two. . . On many accounts we think it inferior to the ‘Selections’ published by Mr. Cheever some years ago, for that was accompanied by some brief but excellent notices both critical and biographical.”

Office of The New Yorker, Friday evening [19 Dec, 1840.]

My dear Griswold: —

. . . Things are going on finely here: there is some probability that Greeley will have to take charge of the Democratic Press: if so, we shall have business enough. I had a letter from the South the other day, offering $600 for teaching a school 10 months. I wrote about it and am awaiting an answer. I think it not unlikely that I shall go. Did you get Bryant’s Poets? I wrote a review of it in the Yorker this week. Benjamin is getting out an awful New World for Christmas. It is to be Folio, twice as large as now. . .

Yours ever,
H. J. Raymond.

[Of the poets named by Greeley, Burleigh is the only one mentioned in the Library of American Literature.]

New York, Dec. 21, 1840.

Rufe Gris:

Yours of yesterday reached me this morning. Thank you for your attention to the Wedgewood business . . . Get a right notice in the Ledger if you can. Swain would like to do me a kindness. But pay for it rather than not get a good one.

Your book is going on all right I wrote [for ‘The Biographical Annual,’ article on Timothy] Flint yesterday, as well as I could, with great [page 51 :] tribulation; but it is hard making brick without either mortar or straw. I could only get a few facto beside those in your Yorker notice, which are abominably vague . . . I took good care that my name should not appear over the article. I put in some flummery and the article will pass well enough, with all but those who know something. . .

Remember some Yorker poets in your volume of Poetry if consistent with the quiet of a good conscience, which is to be regarded above all things. In especial, ‘Rizpah’ by B. F. Ransom, something by ‘J. H. E.’ or J. H. S. (formerly Julia H. Kinney, now Mrs. Julia H. Scott of Towanda, Pa.),a scrap from Mary Emily Jackson if it will do, and something from Wm. H. Burleigh anyhow. W. H. C. Hosmer and Mrs. E. J. Eames ought to be considered and not kicked aside because they have never been in a volume. Try to give a fair chance to the unknown to fame, but don’t spoil your volume with them. Don’t Raym quietly poke it into Bryant’s volume in the last Yorker? Don’t forget some Biographical notation, very brief and expressive, at least to a few who are really Poets.

Raym has a good offer to go South to teach school, but I shall try to keep him. I can train him up in the way he should go shortly.

I met Grund Saturday in Mr. Clay’s room at the Astor. We spoke but a few minutes. I bragged on you and he heartily concurred; but won’t you catch it (somebody tells me that thinks he knows) for serving up Dr. Thomas Dunn English the way you have? Ah, Gris! Gris! shave your horrid claws!

H. Greeley.


‘Yorker’ and ‘Cabin,’ New York, Dec. 26, 1840.

R. W. G.

I have five minutes to write you, and two things to say; so I will write them and be done as soon as possible. . .

I shall walk right into your Philadelphia publishers, very brisk, if they don’t l)ehave themselves. They have sent me three or four of their ordinary rye-and-Indian novels this week, and not Mrs. Norton’s Poems, which you know The New Yorker has done as much to sell as any other paper. You have become god-father for their good behaviour; I pray you look to your responsibility.

I thank you for your kindness in respect to my Postmaster Generalship!!! but Gris., I pray you to have a care to your practice with the long [page 52:] bow. It is too adventurous, I assure yon, and spoils the marksmanship. The things you have said of me there are more incredible than anything in Munchausen, and every intelligent man will know it.

I understand Thad. Stevens is to be Postmaster General. Well, he’s a trump, and will dd good service, but a leetle too savage a politician. I reckon your Philadelphia folks will kick at it; but better Stevens P. M. G. than John Sergeant Secretary of the Treasury, in my opinion. I shall be right glad to hear that old Tip finds at least half of his Cabinet elsewhere than in Congress.

Yours, abundantly,
Horace Greeley.


New York, Jan. 16, 1841.

Friend Gris:

Your letter opens up a world of Greek to me. In the first place, I have never said that Stevens would be P. M. G. to my knowledge. I may have said that if Ewing does not take it Thad. will probably get it, as a guess merely. I am anxious that a good, thorough, efficient, capable man may get that particular place — one that will know how to effect the great Reforms so much needed. Thad. possesses many of the qualifications, but he would be too prescriptive, and I fear he has the reputation (right or wrong) of being an unscrupulous politician. I have feared that he would not make the best kind of a P. H. G. — I mean the most Judicious and popular — that he would be capable and efficient I fully believe. The question is. Where will a better man be found? I mean, if Ewing declines, as it is said he will. I think in such case Old Tip would do himself great credit by restoring John M’ Lean of Ohio, or taking Elisha Whittlesey. This is the great post for the next two years, and I pray that it be well filled. What do you know or think of John V. L. McMahon of Maryland? Do let me know quickly if you hear any thing new on this point; for I pray that it go right, and then all will be well. Our Clay folks here want Gulian C. Yerplanck called into the Cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury. I fear it won’t do to take both the big ones from this side of the Delaware; though Yerplanck is most capable. As to John Sargeant, it must not be thought of. Better Kick Biddle at once, if that rotten concern the ‘Monster,’ is to be represented in the Cabinet at all. It would be terribly odious here to have J. S. in the Treasury. My man is Hugh S. Legaré, but I know he won’t get it. Clayton (J. M.) is able, but too lazy. I think Benj. W. Leigh is too much of a gentleman of leisure and [page 53:] courtesy to rake up all the rate bales of the Treasury as they ought to be raked. — Enough of air-castleing.

As to the [J.] O. Sargent flare-up. I never read the proceedings of the Montgomery festival, and never dreamed that I and Thurlow were there immortalized. (Pray send me a paper). But the explanation of Sargent’s furor is simply this. James Watson Webb wants to be Postmaster of this city! It is the most awfully unpopular idea that ever entered any man’s head — that of putting him into that office: it would raise a rebellion here as sure as tomorrow. But he has been round boring every big-bug in the State to bone for him, and he feels confident of success. The idea of such an appointment is enough to raise a cold sweat on a statue of Washington. Well, Mr. Webb (who has lately paid off his ‘Courier’ and personal debts — $100,000 — at the rate of just on the dollar, by an assignee’s juggle) , is alarmed at seeing other Editors spoken of as most efficient, for that places him elsewhere than in the forefront of the battle. He dictated and John wrote — all vich accounts, you see, gentlemen and ladies, for the milk in the Cocoanut.’ I learn that the Biographical Annual does not sell well — in fact. Oris., it is not well designed or got up. If it were to sell as a Gift- Book, it ought to have been more nicely embellished, and much better printed. It ain’t In good keeping. I have done all I could for it. I will call at Fennell’s tonight, and tell him what to dd for you. . .

I will write you a letter on York affairs or a leader soon — probably tomorrow. See if the Yorker and Cabin are not both good this week.

Raymond is clever but careless. He don’t feel the grave importance of our vocation, and the necessity of throwing earnestness, power into every thing. I am afraid he has hurt me by the ultra-Federalism of his remarks on Hamilton this week, though I have softened and qualified them, especially by my note. You will be startled by my article on Social Reform — no matter. We are going to issue a specimen paper of that faith soon. Review it. I shall also publish a new Politician’s Register, Feb. 1st. . .

Horace Greeley.

The references to ‘social reform’ in the foregoing and following letters are explained by Thurlow Weed thus: —

“In 1841 a young man by the name of Brisbane returned home with a mission. That mission was to reform our social system, converting individuals and families into ‘communities’ upon the Fourier plan. Mr. Greeley was his first convert, and devoted his paper so zealously to the French plan [page 54:] of overthrowing our social system as to occasion serious alarm. After remonstrating privately and earnestly but in vain with Mr. Greeley, I published an able article written by the late Cicero Loveridge against Fourierism. That article provoked the following letter [dated 19 Feb., 1841] from Mr. Greeley in vindication of his raid against what he regarded as fundamental errors in our social system:”

Thurlow Weed, Esq.: I thank you for publishing my reply to your (or rather Loveridge’s) harsh criticism on ‘The Future,’ and on me as connected with it. I do not doubt that Loveridge’s article was well intended, but it was calculated to give countenance to the wrong Impressions created by Bennett’s, the ‘Courier’s,’ and others’ base misrepresentations of ‘The Future,’ which were not dictated by kindly intentions. To have you join in the cry was more than I could relish; though I did not expect you to look with favor on the new notions of our little band of reformers, and had carefully kept the paper away, lest it should provoke you to fall upon it.

To show you that my reply tfi L.’s criticism was not uncalled for, let me quote the following passage from a letter I received yesterday from one of the ablest and best young men of Albany. “I do not recollect distinctly the article in question, but I remember the regret I felt at the conviction pressed upon me that H. G.’s head was turned awry, and his usefulness likely to be impaired by an unhappy misdirection of purpose. I am glad, therefore, that you have done yourself and your doctrine justice.” . . .

I think you take the wrong view of the political bearing of this matter, though I act without reference to that, Hitherto all the devotees of social reform of any kind — all the advocates of a higher destiny for labor — all the combatants against unjust and false social principles- — In short, all the social discontent of the country has been regularly repelled from the Whig party and attracted to its opposite. This forms a heavy dead-weight against us. It strikes me that is unwise to persist in this course, unless we are ambitious to be considered the enemies of improvement and the bulwarks of an outgrown aristocracy in the country. But I will not ask you to think as I do. I only want a chance to think for myself.

Horace Greeley.

“Mr. Greeley’s delusion in reference to Fourierism,” continues Weed, “cost him dearly in more ways than one. For a season it lessened the circulation and influence of his paper, and impaired public confidence in his judgment; while the time, labor, and money given to ‘phalanxes’ and [page 55:] ‘Brook Farms’ resulted in personal mortification and pecuniary loss. Long before his death, not only the Fourierite reform, but ‘table-rappings’ and other “isms” which had attracted and misled him, had passed away.”


At the date of the next letter, Raymond had begun his twenty-first year. His want of sympathy with Greeley’s affinity for “isms” (excepting Abolitionism, and even that with reserves, since he thought it threatened the success of the Whig party) was probably the principal cause of his retirement from The Tribune. In regard to Socialism, in particular, the views here expressed foreshadow the famous discussion in 1846 between the two in their respective papers.

Office of The New-Yorker, Feb. 7, 1841.

My dear Griswold:

Greeley and I have been wondering for a century whether you had forgotten us in Gotham entirely, and as I see no probability that our doubts will be soon resolved in the ordinary course of events, I am determined to thrust a scrawl under your nose, so that you needs must be reminded of our existence, at least. We are getting along grandly, and I wish you could some morning peep in upon us. I thought you were to be here ‘longtime ago’? lam getting considerably naturalized in the New-Yorker, and I am glad to see that I succeed so well in picking up Literary Intelligence that you think it worth stealing. How does the Standard flourish? It’s much like a jewel in a swine’s snout, among the Philadelphia trash. It looks fresh, there’s always something in it that every one did not know before. I noticed that your New York correspondent has stopped his letters. Do you want another — and don’t you want me? If I can write you such as you’d like, I’d be glad to do it cheap. I’ll try and pick up all the commercial news, etc., etc., to your liking. How does your Annual sell? I have been afraid that my commission was very bunglingly discharged with regard to it, especially in not getting in the Foreign Necrology: but Wright said that ‘t would overrun the number of pages, and Greeley said that it would delay the book too much. So yielding to his advice I concluded to let it go and get it out as soon as possible. . .

Don’t you think the ‘Future’ a stupendous humbug? Greeley got himself into a scrape by connecting himself with it, and the city, — especially the Sunday, — papers came down upon him with a vengeance. He’s rather [page 56:] sorry that he enlisted, and is trying to take the curse off by advertising Brisbane’s name as Editor. It does not sell at all. They had a meeting here the other night to organize a society for the promotion of their objects, and found themselves embarrassed by the unexpected co-operation of sundry Owenists, whose alliance of course will make their schemes as popular as anything could be. They’re bust up some — I don’t believe another number of their paper will ever see the light.

[Epes] Sargent has left the Signal and Ben[jamin] is alone. They sponge nearly all their editorial from Greeley, who makes up the ‘Congress’ and writes all the political part. In return he gets occasionally the use of their type, and the strong competition of the [New] World. They send off specimen Nos. to his subs., and run him as much as possible. He’s worth a million of them, in any ‘way they can fix it.’ I shall probably stay with him through the year, until May at any rate, and then if he’s satisfied will stay longer. He pays me $10 a week now and says he’ll advance presently. This is not very lucrative, but if I could get in addition the ‘Correspondence’ of one or two papers I could make a very fair ‘go’ of it. Do you know of any in Phil. who wishes one? Mann and I room together and have great times. We board in Vesey St. near the Astor.

But the bell is ringing for church, and as you know my habits, I need not say that I must be off. If you can divine no other reason for my sending such a brief and contemptible scrawl, just charge it to my extreme solicitude lest you should some day be publishing my demise. Give my best regards to your lady, — ‘poke it in to’ the Phil, jackanapes and believe me ever.

Yours truly,
H. J. Raymond.

P. S. — Don’t forget to write me a letter even if it be no better than this: I shall yet have the satisfaction that it can’t be worse. I sent to [T. W.] White the other day an enormously long and enormously stupid review of Hillhouse. Greeley bored me a long while to have me write it, and I consented.

H. J. R.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 40, running to the bottom of page 41:]

*  It will be seen from the following list that Chivers’ works number more than six volumes. Numbers 2, 8 and 9 are in the library of Harvard College, [page 41:] having belonged to J. R. Lowell. Numbers 1 and 8 are taken from the catalog of the Harris collection.

(1). Conrad and Eudora, or the Death of Alonzo, Phil’a, 1834, 144 pp.

(2). Nacoochee [etc.] with other poems, by T. H. Chivers, M. D. . . New York: W. E. Dean, Printer, 2 Ann St., 1837; 18°, 148 pp.

(3). The Lost Pleiad, N.-Y., 1845.

(4). Facets of Diamond .

(5). Eonchs of Ruby, N.-Y., Shepard & Spalding, 1851, 168 pp.

(6). Virginalia, or Songs of my Summer Nights. Phi’a, Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1858.

(7). Atlanta, or the True Blessed Island of Poesy: a Paul [Prose?] Epic in three Lustra. Macon, 1855, 8°.

(8). Memoralia, or Phials of Amber full of the Tears of Love. A Gift for the Beautiful. By T. H. Chivers, M. D. . . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1858, 18°, 168 pp. This consists of ‘Eonchs of Ruby’ preceded by a single 12 page poem. The copyright date to 1851, so that it is probably the same as No. 5.

(9). The Sons of Usna, a Tragi-Apotheosis, in Five Acts. By T. H. Chivers, M. D. . . Philadelphia, C. Sherman & Son, Printers, 1858; 8°, 92 two-column pages.

(10). Heroes of Freedom.







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