Monday, March 19, 2018

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

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

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

· Tue, Nov 11, 1788 – Page 4 · Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, New York) ·
Related posts:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Verse Paraphrase of the Dutch Hymn to Saint Nicholas, 1810

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

New York Commercial Advertiser - December 12, 1810


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

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

St Nicholas by John Pintard (1810)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Gansevoort in 1829, reading John Franklin

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

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