The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: satire

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.

“Lecture Extraordinary on Nosology” by James Gates Percival

Thanks to the resourceful Life and Letters of James Gates Percival by Julius H. Ward, I am able to place a new, humorous article by Percival before the public (new in that it has most likely not seen the light of day since its publication in this book). Before jumping into the satirical article, there are a few terms/names I want to go over briefly in case they seem unfamiliar to any readers.

Nosology is the classification of diseases based on their symptoms—at least, this is the concept that Percival would have been familiar with by 1833. In the case of Percival’s article, he discourses the term in a humorous, punny manner. Please note especially the chart that he provides.

Phrenology is the study of the skull. This was incredibly popular during the 1800s and was used to determine, examine, and interpret the mental faculties of asylum patients, for example. This article, provided by Encyclopædia Brittanica, beautifully describes and discusses the pseudo-science. Near the end of the article, you will find a list of the “meanings” of different areas of the skull and brain. Writers like Edgar Allan Poe were interested in this science during its heyday, and Poe was known to critique other writers by commenting on their phrenological composition, probably to their great dismay. Here, Percival sardonically exclaims that “nosology…is the true phrenology.” It may be surmised that Percival saw through the baffling and flawed pseudo-science, thus dismissing two physical and mental health practices ahead of his contemporaries.

John Neal (b. 1793—d. 1876) was a 19th century author, editor, poet, and artist, known for his turbulent, aggressive, petulant, temperamental, and eccentric personality. As a writer, he was criticized by his contemporaries for being inconsistent, tangental, and erratic in his novels. This is indicated in the footnote written by Percival at the end of this essay, likening Neal to the “accidental organ,” which is “Rubification” (which means to “make red”). He goes on to describe Neal as an “eagle,” which flies waveringly and bumps into many obstacles, unable to control its flight path. Percival does not seem to esteem Neal as either a writer or a person.

“Lecture Extraordinary on Nosology”
By James Gates Percival
Published anonymously in the Daily Herald of August 17, 1833

“LECTURE EXTRAORDINARY ON NOSOLoGY.

“Tickets not Transferable!

“Gentlemen! the nose is the most prominent feature in this bill.

‘Ο Νους κατ’ àληθες φρένες
‘The nose is the true seat of mind.’

And, therefore, gentlemen, nosology, or the science of the nose, is the true phrenology.
“He who knows his nose foreknows; for he knows that which is before him. Therefore nosology is the surest guide to conduct.
“Whatever progress an individual may make, his nose is always in advance. But society is only a congeries of individuals,—consequently its nose is always in advance, therefore its proper guide.
“The nose, rightly understood, will most assuredly work wonders in the cause of improvement; for it is always going ahead, always first in every undertaking, always soonest at the goal.
“The ancients did not neglect the nose. Look at their busts and statues! What magnification and abduction in Jove! What insinuation and elongation in the Apollo (εκηβολος)! Then nous (intellect) was surely the nose; gnosis (knowledge), noses; and Minos, my nose. Well might the great judge, when regarding this most prominent member of his judgment-seat, exclaim,—’My nose! Ecce Homo!
“Gentlemen! here is a bad nose,—a very bad nose. What intussusception, what potation, and, as a necessary consequence, alas! what rubification! But I have seen such noses, ah! yes, many such noses! Beware of them! They are bad noses,—very bad noses, I assure you!
“Gentlemen! when you choose your partners for life, look out for the nose. Beware of too great penetration and Romanotion, if you would not be henpecked by the one or butted by the other. O yes,—look out for the nose.
“Do not, I pray you, consider me by any means irreverent, if I say that nosology will prove highly favorable to the cause of religion. This is indeed an awful subject, and I would not touch it on slight grounds; but I sincerely believe that what I say is true,—nosology will prove highly favorable to the cause of religion! Does not the nose stand forth like a watchman on the walls of Zion, on the lookout for all assailants; and when our faces are directed upwards in devotion, does not the nose ascend the highest, and most especially tend heavenwards?
“Nosology, too, has a very important bearing on the great law of descent; that law, which, like the lever of Archimedes, will lift the world. Is not the nose the chief seat of all defluxions, and what are defluxions but a flowing down by the great law of descent? Who shall gainsay it?
“This system of nosology was first concocted by Dr. Schnorr; then perfected by Dr. Shnieser; and is now being retailed by your humble servant at command, Dr. Schaefer,—all from the promontory of noses; all genuine descendants of the Man with the Nose.
“But, mark me, gentlemen! nosology is being retailed free gratis. The citizens of New Haven need not therefore fear, that some eight or nine hundred dollars will thereby escape from their pockets within a few weeks. Dr. Schaefer does not shave, whatever his name would seem to indicate.
“Nosology is a manly science. It stands out in the open light. It does not conceal itself behind scratches and periwigs; nor does, like certain false teachers, mentioned by St. Paul, go about rom house to house, leading astray silly women. 
“Finally, gentlemen! you may rest assured that nosology will not quietly submit to insult. Noli me tangere! Who ever endured a tweak of the nose? It will know how to take vengeance. As Jupiter metamorphosed the inhospitable Lycians into frogs, so its contemners will suddenly find themselves βαρβαρóφωυοι!
“Gentlemen, permit me to exhibit to you a nosological table, in which all the organs are exactly localized. Such of you as are desirous of a copy will be furnished by your humble servant on the most reasonable terms; and I would advise you all to procure a copy, especially for my advantage.

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*This is a satirical sally in another vein.
“John Neal is edifying the public, in his Yankee, with his usual free-and-easy remarks on all our literary characters, and that, too, without seeming to care where or how he hits. We believe Neal has talents, but not enough to authorize him to assume such a dictatorship over authors. He has no genius, or if he has, it has run wild without curb or rein. Genius should be capable of continued and lofty enthusiasm. It should fix upon the sun, and soar to it by one long and steady flight. It should imitate the strong-eyed

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eagle. Neal may be an eagle, but he is an eagle with his eyes put out, soaring, sinking, dashing, fluttering, now up, now down, now here, now there, criss-cross, every way.

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“We will now consider this sketch on a perpendicular plane, to accommodate it to the eagle; but only reduce it to a horizontal plane, and it will suit a figure perhaps more applicable to his excellency, namely, that of an owl lost in the sunshine, driving after all the little sparrows, and all the little sparrows chirping after him; bumping against a stump, thumping against a hemlock, knocking against a rail fence, and last of all, we fear, beating his brains out against the breast of a bold eagle. To speak our mind freely, we think the Yankee, with all its boldness and cleverness, is the most egregious piece of humbug that was ever put off upon a gullible public.

“A. B. C.”