The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Category: Uncategorized

“‘Fame is the Spur,’ etc.” by Alexander Robertson

“Fame is the Spur,” etc.
(Milton)
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

But not the sole spur, truly, even if
Sometimes it goads the spirit. As from a cliff
Outjutting boldly, challenging the waste
Of rolling waters, scornful of their haste,
Immovable, the vision of immense
Distance and power, brings to the soul a sense
Of uplift; so the beautiful to creáte
Or truth discover doth the soul elate:
Strange that compelling gladness, yet unsought
By great creators, rather have they wrought
To some compulsion high obedient
As Socrates for the voice divine intent,
Or even as Spirit, self-compelled, doth bring
Into the world of being everything.

“Calm Be Her Sleep” by William Jones

IMG_3070

Calm Be Her Sleep!
William Jones
From Bentley’s Miscellany, Volume 13, pg. 595

Calm be her sleep! as the breast of the ocean,
When the sun is reclining upon its still wave;
She dreams not of life, nor its stormy commotion,
For the surges of trouble recede from her grave!

Calm be her sleep! as the winds that are sighing
Their last faintest echo amid the green trees;
No murmur can reach her—unconsciously lying,
She heeds not the tempest, she hears not the breeze!

Calm be her sleep! as the flower that closes
Its beautiful petal in night’s chilling air!
She has folded her shroud too, and sweetly reposes—
Oh! far be the sorrow that dimm’d one so fair!

Calm be her sleep! as the whisper of even,
When the hands have been clasp’d, and the knees bent in pray’r:
She has chanted her hymn at the portal of heaven,
And found the affection denied to her here!

Calm be her sleep! may the breathing of slander
O’ershade not the pillow bedew’d with our tears!
Away from her turf may the cruel words wander
That clothed her young spirit in darkness and fears!

Calm be her sleep! may the tall grass wave lightly
Above the meek bosom that bless’d us of yore;
Like a bird, it has found out a region more brightly
To nestle its pinion,—but glad us no more!

Kenneth (Kent) Reed Quivorley-Weel II

Kent Reed Quivorley-Weel II, otherwise known as Kenneth Quivorley, was a 19th century poet, primarily published in the Knickerbocker Magazine and the American Monthly Magazine between 1833-1836. He was a pretty obscure literary figure, but here’s what I’ve managed to find about him. I’m proud to say this is the first time this name has appeared anywhere on the internet, so I take great pride in talking about this erratic character.

He was born in New York City in 1796 to a prominent lawyer, Kent Reed Quivorley Weel, and his second wife, Malina (pronounced Mah-line-ah), who was a socialite during the late 18th-early 19th century. Following his father’s footsteps, he entered law school at the age of 15, outshining his half-siblings and full blooded brother who were also in the profession. Enjoying law school thoroughly, Mr. Quivorley-Weel II (I’ll refer to him as Kenneth from here on out) started his own law firm and managed to secure a position in the 9th circuit court of the New York City legal system. While there, he also managed to gain a position at the Philadelphia custom house, where he would spend his weekends. It seems he truly enjoyed his time at the custom house, as he befriended many key historical figures who passed through for business such as Edgar A. Perry, a gentleman named Ludwig, Frank Forester, etc. (Quivorley’s Journal, 367).

During his time as a lawyer, he worked with other notable figures, such as Duer, Cass, Inman, Herbert, and Percival.* Although Kenneth enjoyed lawyering, he felt his true calling was to be an editor; thus, he juggled his law career alongside editing the now incredibly obscure and undetectable Sartman Graham’s United States Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, Music, Photography, Sports, Dance, Theatre, etc. It is important to note that he thereafter left his custom house job, complaining that the heat had gotten to him. (Note: I’m in the works of procuring a copy of the magazine mentioned to transcribe for the blog, but we’ll see how that goes.)

Unfortunately, the journal was a flop and survived for only three issues, not even fulfilling the typical Victorian 6 or 12 month volume. Devastated, he sought side work elsewhere once more and landed a job at the newly opened Kirkbride Asylum in town—this was about 1820-something, and Kirkbride’s system was not very well known at this point. It was while working here that he came across several well known poets of the day who urged Kenneth to write. Amongst these poets were Natty Morris and George Willis. And so it began.

Kenneth, according to my sources, would work tirelessly, only sleeping about 3 hours average every night, caught up between his law job, writing poetry, working for the asylum as an assistant, and partaking in smoking, drinking, and hiking when he could. Finally, around 1833, his big break came in the poetry realm, and he cut ties with his law career and asylum career to write poetry full-time. Below you will find one of his four poems featured under his name, of the ones that I’ve been able to find.

While reading his poetry I took note of the nuances in his writing in order to search for other poems. However, I quickly became frustrated because his poems seemed to be so reminiscent of the poet Thomas Moore, I could not detect which gentleman had written which poem. I suspect plagiarism on Quivorley-Weel’s part, but I’ll revisit that at another time. That being said, unless I find other poems under this name, I will only be able to post the four poems and will have to call it quits there.

Unfortunately, Mr. Quivorley-Weel’s poetry career only lasted about three years, as the American Monthly Magazine for 1836 explains that a poem published in their magazine was written by the late Kenneth Quivorley. It’s truly a shame. I feel if he had continued writing, he could have gone on to produce incredible works, such as Wild Scenes in the Forest and Prairie and several other poems including “Sparkling and Bright” and “Monterey.” For now, the late Kenneth Quivorley’s legacy lives on through my blog, and I truly hope you enjoy this poem.

*More can be found in the following text:

NOTE. All of the above that you’ve read is 100% false. While researching the poet and author Charles Fenno Hoffman I happened upon a pseudonym of his, Kenneth Quivorley. The above account is balderdash and should never be referenced outside of this blog. It would be embarrassing. But what is true is that Hoffman, as suggested in my previous statement, wrote under that pseudonym in both 1833 (in the Knickerbocker) and 1836 (in the American Monthly Magazine). The late Kenneth does make his last appearance, so far as I can tell, in the latter. I found it humorous that Hoffman essentially killed off his character, possibly to rid himself of the “burden” of carrying around an alter-ego (or something like that). Anyway, sorry for leading you astray, it won’t happen again.

Here’s a real poem by the real Charles Fenno Hoffman, presented under the pseudonym “Kenneth Quivorley” in the January issue of the Knickerbocker for 1833.

SONG.

I know thou dost love me—ay! Frown as thou wilt,
And curl that beautiful lip,
Which I never can gaze on without the guilt
Of burning its dew to sip;
I know that my heart is reflected in thine,
And like flowers which over a brook incline,
They toward each other dip.

Though thou lookest so cold in these halls of light,
Mid the careless, proud, and gay,
I will steal like a thief in thy heart at night,
And pilfer its thoughts away;
I will come in thy dreams at the midnight hour,
And thy soul in secret shall own the power
It dares too mock by day.

Is Park Benjamin Guilty of Plagiarism?

In the Poems of Park Benjamin, editor Merle M. Hoover points out an incident in 1839 in which the Brother Jonathan accused Benjamin of plagiarizing Charles Dance’s “Song of the Grave Digger.”  Hoover suggests that this was precipitated by the fact that Benjamin left Brother Jonathan to establish the New World, a rival journal. This petty enmity seemed to be both a stressful and positive happenstance for Benjamin, for his poems were scrutinized thereafter under the pretense of plagiarism, but he was also provided advertisement for his works—surrounded by scandal (16). 

Benjamin’s poem, “The Old Sexton,” is the poem up for debate. I’ll place both poems back to back and you can judge whether or not it sounds as if Benjamin plagiarized Dance’s work. Hoover insists that this accusation is “unfounded;” however, I disagree to an extent (16). Benjamin’s poem (published in 1840) sounds reminiscent of Dance’s poem (published in 1830), not only because of the blatant copying of the phrase “I gather them in,” but also because of the cadence of both works. Furthermore, the subject matter is the same, and there are words such as “spade,” which echo in both poems. These seem to be loose claims, I’m sure; however, neither does Hoover offer adequate points to articulate his stance. Simply put, they’re far too similar, and Benjamin may be guilty. 

The Old Sexton
Park Benjamin

Nigh to a grave, that was newly made,          
Leaned a sexton old on his earth-worn spade:          
His work was done, and he paused to wait    
The funeral train through the open gate:   
A relic of by-gone days was he,           
And his locks were white as the foamy sea—  
And these words came from his lips so thin, 
“I gather them in! I gather them in!”   
 
“I gather them in! for, man and boy,  
Year after year of grief and joy                
I’ve builded the houses that lie around        
In every nook of this burial ground.   
Mother and daughter, father and son,          
Come to my solitude, one by one—     
But come they strangers or come they kin, 
I gather them in! I gather them in!”     
 
“Many are with me, but still I’m alone!         
I’m king of the dead—and I make my throne           
On a monument slab of marble cold, 
And my sceptre of rule is the spade I hold.           
Come they from cottage or come they from hall—    
Mankind are my subjects—all, all, all! 
Let them loiter in pleasure or toilfully spin— 
I gather them in! I gather them in!”     
 
“I gather them in—and their final rest,         
Is here, down here in the Earth’s dark breast”—        
And the sexton ceased—for the funeral train 
Wound mutely over that solemn plain:          
And I said to my heart—when time is told,     
A mightier voice than that sexton’s old                
Will sound o’er the last trump’s dreadful din—         
“I gather them in! I gather them in!”

Song of the Grave Digger
Charles Dance

Poor mortals imagine they stand on the ground,
Supported by all that is solid and sound;
‘Tis a plank, and beneath it my work’s to be found—
I gather them in,
I gather them in.
The child, strong and healthy, careers on the heath—
Not thinking, not caring, scarce knowing of death;
In an instant he draws his last innocent breath:
I gather him in,
I gather him in.
The youth, in the vortex of folly and crime,
Advised to repent—answers, “Not in my prime” ;
He would, if he knew he had run out his time:
I gather him in, 
I gather him in. 
Says Fifty, “poor Sixty is breaking space;
He must long for the health that he sees in my face.”
Self-deceiver! he dreams not he’s first in the race:
I gather him in,
I gather him in.
“Huzza,” says the dotard, “I’m turned of four score,
And now I shall live to a hundred or more”;
At nightfall his coffin is brought to the door:
I gather him in,
I gather him in.
The drunkard exclaims, “Fill my cup to the brim,
In water life sinks, but in brandy ‘twill swim”’
He dies as he speaks, and I make sure of him:
I gather him in,
I gather him in.
The rich man observes his poor neighbor look old,
And hugs himself on his resources of gold;
A lackey all lace, says, “a knell must be tolled.”
I gather him in,
I gather him in.
E’en while he was speaking, the moralist elf
Was digging, unthinking, a pit for himself;
His spade and his mattock are laid on the shelf;
They’ve gathered him in,
They’ve gathered him in.

“The Mother” by Timothy Cole

content (1)

From the Century magazine, Volume 86, pg. 920.

The Mother
By Timothy Cole
From the Century magazine, Volume 86, pg. 920.

DEAR solacer and goddess of the hearth,
O mother! whose enfolding arms and breast
Cradle the infant world from dawn’s fair birth
To the sun’s ripening noon with loving girth;
How oft, in dreaming of thy sheltering rest,
Whose ingle-glow now kindles to new worth
Our souls, we see thy phantom figure blest,
Still ministrant, in light and beauty dressed.
Where light is, thitherward the spirit tends:
Mankind were yet within the womb of night,
From joy imprison’d save for thy sweet might,
Save for the flame thy love forever lends.
While beacon-like thy fire throws its spark.
We shall not fear, though all the world grow dark.