The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: charles fenno hoffman

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.

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“Epitaph Upon a Dog” by Charles Fenno Hoffman

Epitaph Upon a Dog[*]
By Charles Fenno Hoffman
From the New-York Book of Poetry, 1837.

An ear that caught my slightest tone
In kindness or in anger spoken;
An eye that ever watch’d my own
In vigils death alone has broken;
Its changeless, ceaseless, and unbought
Affection to the last revealing;
Beaming almost with human thought,
And more than human feeling!

Can such in endless sleep be chilled,
And mortal pride disdain to sorrow,
Because the pulse that here was stilled
May wake to no immortal morrow?
Can faith, devotedness, and love,
That seem to humbler creatures given
To tell us what we owe above!
The types of what is due to Heaven?

Can these be with the things that were,
Things cherished—but no more returning;
And leave behind no trace of care,
No shade that speaks a moment’s mourning?
Alas! my friend, of all of worth,
That years have stol’n or years yet leave me,
I’ve never known so much on earth,
But that the loss of thine must grieve me.

[*]Today we lost our sweet cat. He was 21.

Plagiarized Poetry: A Literary Dispute Between Elizabeth Oakes Smith and Estelle Anna Lewis

Note: this will most likely be updated, as I am still ardently searching and checking sources to find more information regarding this event.

Nineteenth century poet and women’s rights activist Elizabeth Oakes Smith once found herself in a nasty back-and-forth dispute with poet Sarah Anna Lewis (also known commonly as Estelle, or Stella), for the alleged theft of her poem by Lewis. The newspaper articles that follow explain the situation in greater detail, but I will provide brief background information to supplement the articles. In the first article, Charles Fenno Hoffman is mentioned. Hoffman, whose poetry has appeared numerous times on this blog, was a nineteenth century poet and editor, who was very close friends with Mrs. Smith; therefore, the comment made on Lewis’s part is extremely underhanded. Just a few years before the release of the article, Hoffman was institutionalized for what is known today as bipolar disorder. He and Smith (also known as “Oaksmith,” which is how I will refer to her hereafter) had a falling out due to Hoffman’s disorder; Oaksmith felt very badly about losing her friendship with Hoffman (this is evinced in letters from Oaksmith to editor and anthologizer Rufus Griswold). At the time of the release of this attack made by Lewis on Oaksmith in 1855, Hoffman would have, therefore, still been a tender subject for Oaksmith, thus making Lewis’s accusation that more objectionable.

Secondly, the Hiram Powers mentioned in the last few newspaper articles is this gentleman (if you’re interested in reading more about him). The statue of which the poem is based is also mentioned, and shown, in the linked article.

From the Cleveland Leader

Saturday, November 24, 1855, Pg. 2
Mrs. E. Oakes Smith and Mrs. Estella A. Lewis, both strong-minded woman [sic] as well as literary notabilities, are pulling hair metaphorically with an earnestness that is peculiarly masculine. Mrs. S. accuses Mrs. L. of having stolen a sonnet of her’s; Mrs. L. retorts that the sonnet was not worth stealing at all, and if it was, that Mrs. S. first stole it from Charles Fenno Hoffman, spicing her allusions to the crazy poet with such embellishing insinuations as would be likely to arouse the gentlest of the sex. Mrs. Smith rejoins with indignant warmth and so on.

The New York Times, pg. 218
Rights of Literary Ladies.
Whatever question there may be as to the abstract rights of woman, there can be none whatever, we presume, that they have no right to commit literary larcenies upon each other. In the notice which we published yesterday, of Graham’s Magazine, our extract was given of a sonnet to the Greek Slave, from an article contributed by Mrs. Lewis, of Brooklyn. But we are informed by competent authority that the sonnet was written by Mrs. E. Oakes Smith, and was published by her some years ago, when Powers’ famous statue was first exhibited in this City. It requires no Solomon to pronounce a judgement in the case of this literary [?], and, we presume, that Mrs. Lewis will admit the mistake.

The New York Times, pg. 239
Reply of Mrs. E. Oakes Smith to Mrs. Estelle A. Lewis.
To the Editor of the New-York Daily Times:
I was very greatly surprised this morning to read a letter in your paper, in which allusion is made to myself, so gross and indecent in character, that, like touching pitch, I shrink from coming in contact with it. The article, however, I regret to say, is signed by a woman.
When Mrs. Estelle A. Lewis took possession of my Sonnet to the Greek Slave, thereby indorsing her sense of its merits, I had hoped it was done by accident or mistake. Her very lady-like article is an admission of petit larceny. I am sorry for it. A man who should be guilty of an act of the kind, would be excluded from our houses,—we should be likely to feel that the “spoons” would be hardly safe.
I am at a total loss to comprehend the force of application of her allusion to Charles F. Hoffman, of whom any one with a spark of human sensibility would not fail to speak with respect and tenderness, in his present unfortunate and melancholy state of mind. Were he able to speak in the premises, he would not only disclaim all knowledge whatever of the article in question, but, as a high-toned gentleman and an honorable man, would blush that a woman could be willing to use his name in so gross and unjustifiable a manner. Men are too wise to insult each other. Women are not yet, it seems, in some cases, entirely beyond the vocabulary elegantly denominated Billingsgate.
I inclose[sic] a letter from Mr. Powers, which you will see by the date was sent me many years ago. I am aware it is neither proper or delicate to publish a private letter, but I am sure Mr. Powers will pardon the informality because of the necessities of the case.
E. Oakes Smith.
No. 46 Stuyvesant-street, New-York, Nov. 2.

[COPY.]
To Mrs. E. Oakes Smith:
Dear Madam—I had the satisfaction, some weeks ago, to receive, by the hand of a friend, the very touching sonnet you composed upon my statue of the “Slave,” also the little volume of your charming poems, and perhaps I ought to apologize for delaying to acknowledge these testimonials of regard from so gifted a source.
The only drawback to the pleasure I felt in reading the sonnet and the accompanying few lines, so complimentary to me, and so honorable to the kind hear that composed and sent them here, was the consciousness that your warm imagination had clothed any work with grace and sentiment not justly its own, and its author with unmerited honors.
Permit me, nevertheless, to thank you with all my heart for the delicate and beautiful compliment I have received; and allow me, my dear Madam, the honor to add my humble name to the list of your admirers and friends. (Signed.)
Hiram Powers
Florence, May 21, 1848

“To a Lady Weeping in Church” by Charles Fenno Hoffman

The earliest I can date this poem is 1825, although I do not believe it was printed until 1844, where it was published in Hoffman’s poetry anthology, The Echo. The year 1825 comes from a note appended to the poem, which remarks, “Albany, 1825.” This is significant as it demonstrates some of Hoffman’s earliest poetry. This particular poem would have been written at age 18/19.

To a Lady Weeping in Church
Charles Fenno Hoffman

WHEN tears from such as thee bedew the cheek,
In scenes like this—’twould seem that heavenly eyes
The soften’d glories of religion speak,
And claim the dewdrop from their kindred skies.

‘Tis said that female saints of other days
From grovelling guilt could purge the foulest breast,
And teach the poor deluded wretch the ways
That lead to mansions of eternal rest.

And who could look upon thy heavenly face,
Nor feel his breast with sacred fervor glow ;
While every tear that fell from thee would chase
Each thought that link’d him to this world below.

If then one tear of thine—one murmur’d sigh,
Can tune the heart to sacred scenes like this,
Why doubt the power to lure the soul on high,
And lead it captive to the realms of bliss?

“The Call of Spring” by Charles Fenno Hoffman

The Call of Spring
Charles Fenno Hoffman

THOU wak’st again, O Earth !
From winter’s sleep !—
Bursting with voice of mirth
From icy keep ;
And laughing at the Sun,
Who hath their freedom won,
Thy waters leap !

Thou wak’st again, O Earth !
Feebly again,
And who by fireside hearth
Will now remain ?
Come on the rosy hours—
Come on thy buds and flowers,
As when in Eden’s bowers,
Spring first did reign.
Birds on thy breezes chime
Blithe as in that matin time
Their choiring begun :
Earth, thou has many a prime—
Man hath but one !

Thou wak’st anew, O Earth !
Freshly anew !
As when at Spring’s first birth
First flow’rets grew.
Heart ! that to earth dost cling,
While boughs are blossoming,
Why wake not too ?

Long thou in sloth hast lain,
Listing to Love’s soft strain—
Wilt thou sleep on?
Playing, thou sluggard heart,
In life no manly part,
Though youth be gone.
Wake ! ’tis Spring’s quickening breath
Now o’er thee blown ;
Awake thee ! ere thou in death
Pulselessly slumbereth,
Pluck thou from Glory’s wreath
One leaf alone !