The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: Charles Henry Foster

“A Vagary of One Sick” by Charles Henry Foster

A Vagary of One Sick.
By Charles Henry Foster
From the Knickerbocker, Volume 49, February, 1857, pg. 154.


SHROUDED phantoms flit before me, ghastly faces meet my gaze!
Spectral arms with bony fingers clutch the air!
Hist! that sad sepulchral moaning—worlds of anguish it betrays:
Anguish as of damnéd spirits, panting in the nether blaze,
Uttering forth a late repentance, in wild regretful prayer,
While their tones sink ever lower, as they lapse to mute despair.


Now the pallid ghosts are gathered from each dark and weltering tomb,
Where they brood o’er livid corpses cold and stark;
And the goblins hold their revel, even here within my room,
Moving fleetly to-and-fro amid this dull and mid-night gloom,
Goblins wan and melancholy, dwellers of the sunless dark,
From the dusky shores of OREUS echoing with trifaucal bark.*


And the agile gnomes come hither, elf and elemental sprite;
Restless riders of the tempest and the wind:
How the myriad mingled demons my whole shrinking soul affright!
Mingled of divine and human, finding fierce malign delight;
Finding sharp, exulting rapture in this torment of my mind:
How they follow, with grim purpose, each some other close behind!


Thronging denser still and faster, yet the apparitions come;
Skeletons and gliding shades in sombre train;
Gaunt and haggard shapes of slain ones, as if called by beat of drum;
Famished lips and eyeless sockets: I would shriek, but I am dumb!
All my swollen heart is bursting with an infinite of pain:
Oh! the cruel, boundless horror of this fever of my brain!

Orono, on the Penobscot, (Maine.)

*’CERBERUS hæc ingens latratu regna trifauci
Personat.’ VIRG. Æn. Lib. VI.
‘Ore trilingui.’ HOR. Lib. II., Car. XIX., et Lib. III., Car. XI.

“Lines” by Charles Henry Foster

By Charles Henry Foster


OLD wood, that has stood ‘mid the tempests rude,
Whose fibres the years have woven;
Brought by sturdy arm from some ancient farm,
And in faggots[*] deftly cloven:
In the forest dim each stalwart limb
On the tough old tree has thickened;
And now, by its heat, won from wind and sleet,
My shivering frame is quickened.
At this gladsome hearth; I can guess the worth
Of the blasts it has grimly weathered,
As with crackle and roar it yields the store
Of warmth it has slowly gathered:
While the embers glow, my fancies go,
By the cheering flame up-kindled:
Now, with sudden leap the dogs I heap;*
In my musing the blaze had dwindled.

Old books from their nooks, with searching looks,
I bear to the lighted table;
As I gaze within, I try to win
The fact in their cunning fable.
Now the worlds of old their lore unfold,
As converse I hold with the ages;
And I hoard their dowers through the waxing hours,
While scanning the painted pages.
Then the Christian seers of the middle years,
When the Church had might and glory,
Wield weapons dense, in the Faith’s defence,
Or chant some martyr’s story.
Oh! the earnest word is for ever heard,
From the open page that speaketh;
And the souls of men sound it back again,
And in deathless echoes it breaketh.

Old friends HEAVEN sends, and my study ends;
Right joysome is our greeting;
In gay discourse we prove the force
Of the love in our bosoms beating:
Now the merry shout rings cheerly out,
As the lively jest is started;
Now wells the tear as we sadly hear
Of some kind soul departed.
In an alien land, still a friendly hand
To his last dark slumber laid him;
And the honors due to a heart so true,
In prayerful sorrow paid him.
Oh! friendship pure will aye endure,
When this masque below is ended,
And in union dear in a better sphere
We meet with the dead ascended.

Old wine, divine, born of Gallia’s vine,
From its cellared covert bringing,
We quaff its wealth of mirth and heath,
As its genial beams ‘t is flinging.
Now we tread the realm where falls the film
That dulls this mortal vision,
And our mounting dreams are bright with gleams
From the blissful fields of Elysian.
While beats the storm our souls grow warm,
Our spirits its shrieks embolden;
And the song we raise in the glad GOD’S praise,
Who brought us this blessing golden.
PROMETHEUS gave flame, but till BACCHUS came,
Men knew not the truth of feelings,
The swift-winged thought and the wisdom caught
From the ruddy bowl’s revealing.

[*In order to spare confusion and address concern regarding this term, refer to this 19th century definition of the term: “A bundle of sticks bound together as fuel.”]

*———’LIGNA super foco
Large reponens.’—HOR. Lib. I, CARMEN IX.

“The Reach of Thought” by Charles Henry Foster

The Reach of Thought.
C. H. F. [Charles Henry Foster]
From the Knickerbocker, Volume 50, September, 1857, pg. 253.

The rain-drop that falls on a central wave
Of the ocean’s restless tide,
Moves the billowy depths that forever rave
Round each lonely rock, in each sounding cave,
Embraced in its empire wide.

The arrow that’s shot through the yielding air,
The beat of the ground-bird’s wing,
Are felt where the cold polar ices glare,
And where sun-shine warms the savannahs fair,
That bloom in perpetual spring.

And the light of the faintest star that burns
In its GOD-appointed place,
Streams forth to the farthest globe that turns,
Nor the lightest wandering atom spurns
That floats through the depths of space.

So a thought, sent forth by an earnest soul,
Sweeps the grander realm of mind:
‘Twill make itself felt through the sentient whole,
As onward the waves of its influence roll,
To brighten the hopes of mankind.

“Sonnet” by Charles Henry Foster

C. H. F. [Charles Henry Foster]
From the Knickerbocker, Volume 49, March, 1857, pg. 233.

‘Die Seele ist Konigin.’

IT matters not to me how fine a brain
My neighbor’s mind may dwell in: his discourse
May bear the deftest witchery, and its force
May make all rival argument in vain.
This is not highest: for the sophists train
The human reason to such skill in fence
As to o’er-match the sure report of sense,
And over very Truth some victory gain.
Not of the first estate are these fair powers,
Wit, fancy, genius, graceful poesy:
But to a mistress worthier than they all,
Gay, gallant courtiers of those mortal hours;
They bow in homage. Noble though they be,
The soul alone is queen—the heart her regal hall.

Augusta, (Maine.)

“Sonnet” by C[harles] H[enry] F[oster]

Although it unknown who may have written these lines, I speculate they belong to Charles Henry Foster, a mid-19th century lawyer, journalist, and politician. There are a couple clues which lead to this conclusion. Firstly, the name Charles Henry Foster appears in the 1856 (48th) volume of the Knickerbocker, just a volume after the appearance of this sonnet, thus establishing a connection between contributors with the same initials. Foster, to my knowledge, does not reappear fully named, but the simple initials reappear in volumes 49 and 50. Secondly, there is a hint given at the end of a few of C. H. F.’s sonnets (which will be posted soon after this one) being the location “Augusta, (Maine.)” According to Donald E. Collins in Charles Henry Foster: A Unionist in Confederate North Carolina, Foster “spent the year 1856 as a teacher and principle at Cony School for Boys in Augusta, Maine” (2). This coincides with the release of this poem, as well as another sonnet published in 1857 (Volume 49) of the Knickerbocker, which is also signed by C. H. F. accompanied with “Augusta, (Maine) as the location. According to Collins, Foster made a change by moving to the South in 1857, although exact dates surrounding this move are not given.

All-in-all, simple coincidences, but they leave one to undoubtedly conclude that the author of this sonnet, as well as later poems signed by C. H. F. in the Knickerbocker, belonged to Charles Henry Foster. Until proven otherwise, therefore, every poem posted on this website by C. H. F. from the Knickerbocker will be tagged under “Charles Henry Foster.”

As for who Foster was, I’ll save that for a rainy day. (Preview: he was a tempestuous character. How fun!)

By C. H. F.
From the Knickerbocker, Volume 47 (1856), pg. 475.


OUT from these fetters wherewith I am bound,
I cry for rescue: my tired spirit pleads
Against this starving slavery of creeds,
And mourns its freedom lost, in grief profound:
Alas! what prison-walls my soul surround!
Once, in unrest, I sought fair-seeming schools;
But there Authority supremely rules;
And sullen Doubts crouch, muttering, on the ground
While buffoon Dogmas mimic hoary Truth.
From this dull bondage is there no release?
Down in despair must all my hopes be frowned?
Can I not win again my golden youth?
A presence answers: Now my soul has peace;
In PLATO’S muse divine, deliverance is found.

Augusta, (Maine.)