The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s “To—, with a Copy of Woolman’s Journal”

I have found myself returning to my copy of Whittier over and over again as of recent, and I cannot begin to sincerely express the fullness I feel in my heart after reading his poems. His gentle, poetic voice and non-rebuking messages are currently healing and restorative for me. Below is another newfound favorite from amongst his vast works. I hope it may touch you, as well.

with a Copy of Woolman’s Journal

MAIDEN! with the fair brown tresses
Shading o’er thy dreamy eye,
Floating on thy thoughtful forehead
Cloud wreaths of its sky.

Youthful years and maiden beauty,
Joy with them should still abide,–
Instinct take the place of Duty,
Love, not Reason, guide.

Ever in the New rejoicing,
Kindly beckoning back the Old,
Turning, with the gift of Midas,
All things into gold.

And the passing shades of sadness
Wearing even a welcome guise,
As, when some bright lake lies open
To the sunny skies,

Every wing of bird above it,
Every light cloud floating on,
Glitters like that flashing mirror
In the self-same sun.

But upon thy youthful forehead
Something like a shadow lies;
And a serious soul is looking
From thy earnest eyes.

With an early introversion,
Through the forms of outward things,
Seeking for the subtle essence,
And the bidden springs.

Deeper than the gilded surface
Hath thy wakeful vision seen,
Farther than the narrow present
Have thy journeyings been.

Thou hast midst Life’s empty noises
Heard the solemn steps of Time,
And the low mysterious voices
Of another clime.

All the mystery of Being
Hath upon thy spirit pressed,–
Thoughts which, like the Deluge wanderer,
Find no place of rest:

That which mystic Plato pondered,
That which Zeno heard with awe,
And the star-rapt Zoroaster
In his night-watch saw.

From the doubt and darkness springing
Of the dim, uncertain Past,
Moving to the dark still shadows
O’er the Future cast,

Early hath Life’s mighty question
Thrilled within thy heart of youth,
With a deep and strong beseeching
What and where is Truth?

(I have included an excerpt only. You may find the rest here.)

The entirety of T. B. Peterson’s insufferable advertisement.

It has been requested of me to transcribe the entire infamous advertisement, which I originally posted a fragment of here. While transcribing the rest of this ad, I realized I had not exhausted my disdain for it, as I found only several more irritating qualities about the write-up. I suppose we are now blessed with knowing the entire Peterson store like the back of our hand. However, because he clearly draws out every inch of his store, it makes me question—how did they clean their floors? How did they shelve their books? Were said shelved books in alphabetical order, and by subject? What were the measurements of the books, individually? How much money did he pay his employees? Did the company receive 5-star reviews on Yelp? These are questions that will forever go unanswered. He has packed in everything but the kitchen sink in his ad. Because of his negligence, I will not be buying from his store.

I digress. Here is the rest of this ostentatious advertisement.


Cheap Book, Magazine, Newspaper, Publishing
and Bookselling Establishment, is at
No. 102 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

T. B. Peterson has the satisfaction to announce to the public, that he has removed to the new and spacious BROWN STONE BUILDING, NO. 102 CHESTNUT STREET, just completed by the city authorities on the Girard Estate, known as the most central and best situation in the city of Philadelphia. As it is the Model Book Store of the Country, we will describe it: It is the largest, most spacious, and best arranged Retail and Wholesale Cheap Book and Publishing Establishment in the United States. It is built, by the Girard Estate, of Connecticut sand-stone, in a richly ornamental style. The whole front of the lower story, except that taken up by the doorway, is occupied by two large plate glass windows, a single plate to each window, costing together over three thousand dollars. On entering and looking up, you find above you a ceiling sixteen feet high, while, on gazing before, you perceive a costa of One Hundred and Fifty-Seven feet. The retail counters extend back for eighty feet, and, being double, afford counter-room of One Hundred and Sixty feet in length. There is also over Three Thousand feet of shelving in the retail part of the store alone. This part is devoted to the retail business, and as it is the most spacious in the country, furnishes also the best and largest assortment of all kinds of books to be found in the country. It is fitted up in the most superb style; the shelvings are all painted in Florence white, with gilded cornices for the book shelves. 

Behind the retail part of the store, at about ninety feet from the entrance, is the counting-room, twenty feet square, railed neatly off, and surmounted by a most beautiful dome of stained glass. In the rear of this is the wholesale and packing department, extending a further distance of about sixty feet, with desks and packing counters for the establishment, etc. etc. All goods are received and shipped from the back of the store, having a fine avenue on the side of Girard Bank for the purpose, leading out to Third Street, so as not to interfere with and block up the front of the store on Chestnut Street. The cellar, of the entire depth of the store, is filled with printed copies of Mr. Peterson’s own publications, printed from his own stereotype plates, of which he generally keeps on hand an edition of a thousand each, making a stock, of his own publications alone, of over three hundred thousand volumes, constantly on hand.

T. B. PETERSON is warranted in saying, that he is able to offer such inducements to the trade, and all others, to favor him with their orders, as cannot be excelled by any book establishment in the country. In proof of this, T. B. PETERSON begs leave to refer to the great facilities of getting stock of all kinds, his dealing direct with all the Publishing Houses in the country, and also to his own long list of Publications, consisting of the best and most popular productions of the most talented authors of the United States and Great Britain, and to his very extensive stock, embracing every work, new or old, published in the United States. 

T. B. PETERSON will be most happy to supply all orders for any books at all, no matter by whom published, in advance of all others, and at publishers’ lowest cash prices. He respectfully invites Country Merchants, Booksellers, Pedlars, Canvassers, Agents, the Trade, Strangers in the city, and the public generally, to call and examine his extensive collection of cheap and standard publications of all kinds, comprising a most magnificent collection of CHEAP BOOKS, MAGAZINES, NOVELS, STANDARD and POPULAR WORKS of all kinds, BIBLES, PRAYER BOOKS, ANNUALS, GIFT BOOKS, ILLUSTRATED WORKS, ALBUMS and JUVENILE WORKS of all kinds, GAMES of all kinds, to suit all ages, tastes, etc. which he is selling to his customers and the public at much lower prices than they can be purchased elsewhere. Being located at No. 102 CHESTNUT Street, the great thoroughfare of the city, and BUYING his stock outright in large quantities, and not selling on commission, he can and will sell them on such terms as will defy all competition. Call and examine our stock, you will find it to be the best, largest and cheapest in the city; and you will also be sure to find all the best, latest, popular, and cheapest works published in this country or elsewhere, for sale at the lowest prices.

Call in person and examine our stock, or send your orders by mail direct, to the CHEAP BOOKSELLING and PUBLISHING ESTABLISHMENT of

No. 102 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.