The following appeared in the Literary World for November 13, 1847, in defense of Headley's accusations against Hoffman and I:
Friday, November 14, 2014
The New York Tribune for November 12, 1847, carried the following two letters in the ongoing scuffle between Carey & Hart and Baker & Scribner, the first so much blather from Headley, and the second from his publisher:
NEW-YORK, Nov. 11.
To the Editors of the Tribune:
Messrs. Carey & Hart, having seen fit to extend their defence to The Tribune, I beg leave to make the following statement, which I trust will be final, and ask the few who care anything about this matter to read it candidly. I must state also at the outset that I have been dragged unwillingly before the public by these men, and forced into a defence, when if they had told the simple truth I should have needed none. Now what is the root of all this trouble and outcry? Carey & Hart wished to publish a book for me, which I chose to give to another house. I never made a contract with them—I never made a verbal promise—I never offered them a book—I never even promised to inform them of my plans, or expressed a wish to make an arrangement with them. They wrote me a courteous letter, requesting the book. I replied courteously, complimenting their house, for which at the time I had the highest respect, but not committing myself in any way. On this they commenced their crusade; first, by showing around the city the correspondence between them and my publishers and me, and endeavoring to get the opinions of the trade in their favor, and thus frighten my publishers into a relinquishment of their claim. Next, by publishing a book as nearly like mine, in form, size, external getting up and title, as they well could. All this flattering notice of me I, of course, appreciated, yet could not but wonder at their folly. Not satisfied with this, they endeavored in the introduction to their work, to prove that I had wronged them—nay, stolen from them their own property. The following extract from my letter to the Courier & Enquirer will explain all this:
To the Editors of the Courier & Enquirer:
GENTLEMEN—As I have been unwillingly dragged before the public by a portion of the press, and accused of dishonesty in the publication of my “Washington and his Generals,” will you do me the favor to allow a word of explanation in your columns? Messrs. Carey & Hart of Philadelphia, having issued a work bearing a similar title and copied after mine in form, size, binding, &c. so closely that no one can doubt their intentions. In doing this they have found it necessary, in order to exculpate themselves, to assail me with heavy charges which have been repeated and enforced in several of the papers. They say in their introduction that they cannot explain this course more fairly than by giving the following extracts from our correspondence on the subject. The following are the extracts they give: “PHILADELPHIA. Sept. 9, 1846
“We have had in contemplation the publication of a work to be entitled “The Generals of the American Revolution,” to make one or two 12mo. Volumes and should like to know if you would be willing to undertake the authorship of it. It you feel inclined to do so, please let us know your terms.”
Also an extract from my reply, viz: “STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. Sept. 21, 1846.
“I have just received your favor of the 9th inst. I scarcely know what to say in reply, as I do not yet know what my engagements will be for the winter.…but before I undertake it, I shall want to inquire respecting the materials for it, and whether they are easily accessible. I am afraid the archives of the separate States will have to be searched. There is another consideration; whether it would be better for me as an author to write such a work….I shall return to New-York in a week or two, when I shall decide on what I undertake.”
They then state that—
“Since the date of that letter, however, he has not written a line to the publishers; though they suggested the idea of the work to him, he has arranged with Messrs. Baker and Scribner, of New-York, (who were perfectly aware of the circumstances of his correspondence on the subject with Carey & Hart,) for its publication.
“The publishers have only to add that, as they were the originators of the work, their suggestions in regard to it should not have been used by Rev. J. T. Headley, for his own benefit or that of any other house, without first giving them notice and obtaining their consent. As well might a publisher make use of a MS submitted to him for publication by an author, by appropriating that author’s ideas in the preparation of a similar work, while he should be under the impression and expectation that the publisher was deciding upon the merits of his literary labors. PHILADELPHIA, 1847.
Messrs. Carey & Hart here distinctly assert that they suggested an entirely new work to me, and that, while they supposed I was deliberating on their proposals, I coolly appropriated their plan and made arrangements with another house. To substantiate this charge of dishonesty, they adduce, my letter as the proof and the only proof. Now to show the nature of this proof, and where the dishonesty and falsehood rest, I give the letter as written by me, that it may be compared with the extract made by them: “STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. Sept. 21, 1846.
“I have just received your favor of the 9th inst. forwarded from New-York.
I scarcely know what to say in reply, as I do not yet know what my engagements will be for the winter. I have had such a work as the one you propose to publish in contemplation for some time; last Spring I was spoken to on the subject in New-York, but before I undertake it, I shall want to inquire respecting the materials for it, and whether they are easily accessible. I am afraid the archives of the separate States will have to be searched. There is another consideration; whether it would be better for me as an author to write such a work,” &c.
Thus it is seen that they have endeavored to suborn a witness, in order to make it sustain a false accusation. They quote a letter intended to prove that I had acknowledged them to be the originators of the book; yet that very letter asserts my claim to it in the strongest manner. They cite the letter to prove by my confession, their priority over all others; that letter informs them I had already been spoken to on the subject. And yet, with this letter in their hands, with all these facts before them, they have publicly claimed the idea of the book as their own, charged me with having dishonestly appropriated it to my own use and benefit, and then, to sustain these charges, have garbled the very letter which refutes them all! Among honorable men such an act would stamp the author of it with lasting disgrace.
With regard to the abstract question, who suggested the work, it is too ridiculous to be entertained a moment. Every one who has taken the trouble to think on the subject at all, believes that “Washington and his Generals” grew out of “Napoleon and his Marshals.”
Since this was published they have made another statement and again garbled my letter and endeavored to make another point. In reply I say, there stands the extract as copied from Carey & Hart’s copy of the original which they showed around town last Spring. Do they deny its genuineness? I wished to publish the whole letter but could not get hold of it. I directed my publishers to write a polite note to Mr. Hart requesting a copy. They did so; but hitherto he has declined to send it or to publish it himself. The only point they raise in their preface is that they suggested the book to me, and that I stole and appropriated the suggestion. That point is settled by the extract I gave. Let them publish the whole letter and then the public can determine where the honesty rests.
Are they not aware that their refusal to do so is and will be construed into a confession of guilt? If they are justified in the course they have pursued by that letter as they assert, why not publish it? It is a short one and would not take up a tenth part of the space they have occupied with their comments. I am willing that letter should stand without note or comment as my answer to all their charges, and side by side with their preface as the only testimony I need to convict them. Nay, more, it will give the lie direct to the following statement in their last letter.
“He (Mr. Headley) gives in your paper the letter as written by himself, in which he states he had ‘such a work as the one we proposed to publish in contemplation for some time,’ but does not add, as he did in his original letter received by us, that the work he contemplated publishing, (which is evident to us from the tenor of that letter,) was a History of the late War.”
I said I had had in contemplation a History of the Last War; but the one which I stated I had had “in contemplation for some time” is asserted distinctly in the following sentence of my letter as quoted above:--“I have had such a work as you propose to publish in contemplation for some time.” Can anything equal this misrepresentation and effrontery?
In conclusion, I must say again, that I have been forced unwillingly into this controversy, and should not have noticed Mr. Hart’s misrepresentations, had not several of the papers taken them up, and extended them to my injury. They say they have never before been “unfairly treated by an American author.” I can assure them that if they treat all as they have me, they will soon find none to treat with them. I have written a book in the way I saw best—“this is the head and front of my offending;” and yet I must be abused, misrepresented and forced into a newspaper quarrel, because I will not let a certain wealthy house make some money out of me.
Yours, truly, J. T. HEADLEY.
NEW-YORK, Nov. 11, 1847.
To the Editor of The Tribune:
SIR: Messrs. Carey & Hart published in your paper this morning some extracts from letters that passed between us respecting Mr. Headley’s work, entitled “Washington and his Generals.” We have only to say in reply, let them publish the whole correspondence between us, including Mr. Headley’s letter. Their selected extracts and quotations we shall not notice, as they do not tell the whole truth. We appeal to the whole correspondence and object to ex parte extracts. We are willing that the whole correspondence should decide the question between us; but until they give that, we have only to say that any one who will take the trouble to read the exposition of Mr. Headley will see that Carey & Hart had no claim on him for his book—that he was under no obligation to them respecting it, and therefore had a perfect right to give it to us if he pleased. If he had a right to dispose of the book as he say fit, we certainly had a right to make an arrangement with him. Yours, &c. BAKER & SCRIBNER.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
The following wall of text appeared in the New York Tribune for November 11, 1847. The first item is yet another letter from Headley, in which he coins a phrase that has irritated me no end and has been oft repeated. The remaining items were written by my wonderful publishers, Carey & Hart.
To the Editor of The Tribune:
You state that I made a sort of appeal “to you respecting Mr. Griswold’s veracity.” I certainly had no wish or design to drag you into the controversy. That appeal, if it was one, was of course wholly unwarranted by you. I stated what I did entirely on my own responsibility; nay, it was no more than I should say to anyone acquainted with Mr. Griswold who repeated to me a false and slanderous statement of his. I should say in each and every case, “you know he cannot be relied on,” and that without fear of contradiction or intending to compromise the person to whom it was addressed. I should not have taken the trouble to contradict the ridiculous accusations he made, if your paper had been confined to the city where he is understood. A man to whom even his friends have been accustomed to say, “Is that a Griswold or a fact,” I can well let pass where he is known, but in other parts of the country where the Tribune circulates, people are not so well acquainted with matters. Yours, &c. J. T. HEADLEY.
PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday afternoon. Nov. 9, 1847.
To the Editors of The Tribune, N. York:
GENTLEMEN: We enclose a copy of the Letter handed to the Editors of the Courier & Enquirer on the 4th inst. in reply to an attack on us, in their paper of the 2d Nov. by Rev. J. T. Headley, which we expected would appear the next morning, instead of which a farther attack from Mr. Headley appeared that day, and this morning only they published a part of our letter, with an explanation; stating, also, “that anything farther to be inserted from any party must be placed on the footing of an advertisement,” and as we are desirous that the public may judge of the entire letter written by us we have sent a Telegraphic Dispatch to them this afternoon requesting the insertion of the same as a paid advertisement in their paper of tomorrow.
Fearing farther delay in its appearance (in case our message did not reach them) we request you will also insert it as a paid advertisement, on the 2d page of your journal of the 11th inst. and send bill to us. Yours respectfully, CAREY & HART.
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 3, 1847.
To the Editors of the Courier & Enquirer:
GENTLEMEN—In your paper of the 2d inst. we notice the insertion of a letter from Rev. J. T. Headley respecting the publication of “Washington and the Generals of the American Revolution,” in which he states we have garbled his letter, [we here beg you to observe that we distinctly stated in our notice that we gave an extract from Mr. Headley’s letter of 21st September, not his letter entire,] and he gives in your paper the letter as written by himself, in which he states he had “such a work as the one we proposed to publish in contemplation for some time,” but does not add, as he did in his original letter received by us, that the work he contemplated publishing, (which is evident to us from the tenor of the letter,) was a History of the late War. (1812,) not “Washington and his Generals,” as will appear by a farther extract form this same letter of Sept. 21, 1846, which he has omitted in your columns, via:
“I have had in contemplation a history of the last war—a condensed history—perhaps it might be called a military one, for which I think there is a place. It is a little singular that we should have to standard history of that war. I shall return to New-York in a week or two, when I shall decide on what I undertake. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to publish a work with your imprint on the title page. There is no house in the country I should prefer to have my books before yours.”
You will, therefore, perceive that the garbling, if any, is not on our part, and that the gentleman himself is fairly entitled to all the epithets he so lavishly bestows on us.
He asserts that, in order to exculpate ourselves in consequence of the publication of our work, we have found it necessary to assail him with heavy charges. We had no occasion to exculpate ourselves, as we applied to Mr. Headley to compile a book for us (which he afterward wrote for himself,) entitled “The Generals of the American Revolution.” Of course Washington was included as ONE OF THE GENERALS—and we had no objection to use his illustrious name prominently on the title page, as we have since done—at the same time retaining our original title (and) “THE GENERALS OF THE REVOLUTION.”
Mr. Headley states that he had previously been spoken to on the subject of publishing that work (“Washington and His Generals”). Perhaps he will be kind enough to state the name of the House who made application previous to us! as it seems strange indeed that he should, under those circumstances, have offered “Washington and His Generals” to the Messrs. Harpers (after he had received our letter) and partly arranged with those gentlemen, but upon being offered a larger price by Messrs. Baker & Scribner, the publishers of his “Napoleon”, withdrew the work from the Messrs. Harpers and gave it to them. We quote the following extracts from Messrs. Baker & Scribner’s letter to us of 27th February, 1847, in evidence of the foregoing:
“Having had some reason to suspect that Mr. Headley was employed on such a work, we inquired of him distinctly, and then for the first time learned that he had been engaged on “Washington and His Generals” and had it partly written, and had partially agreed with the Messrs. Harpers to publish, and could not give us his book. Mr. H. also stated that he considered himself as having a right to such a work, both from its similarity in plan with “Napoleon,” to which it would naturally follow as a sequel, the unanimous opinion of all his friends, and the universal expectation that he should write it…
“We had then, in compliance with the wishes of Mr. Stewart, determined to abandon his work, (“Washington and his Staff,”) under the supposition, too, that Mr. Headley’s engagements with the Harpers were such that they would publish for him;…and we had offered him terms which he considered more favorable than any other he could make, he, with the consent of the Messrs. Harpers, gave us his book.”
We could make our letter much longer, and produce farther proof to show how unfairly we have been treated both by Mr. Headley and his publishers; could also furnish you copies of the written opinions we have in our possession from some of the most eminent publishers in this city and New-York who read the whole correspondence, prior to the publication of either Mr. Headley’s or our book, did we dare to encroach farther on your columns or readers, but offer you for publication in your paper, if Mr. Headley but desires it and you are willing to afford sufficient space, the entire correspondence from the 9th September, 1846, to March 4, 1847, between ourselves, Mr. Headley, and Messrs. Baker & Scribner, so that the public may fully judge between us. The correspondence was brought to a close at that date by the non-acceptance, on the part of Mr. Headley and his publishers, of our offer to leave the whole matter in dispute between us to three disinterested publishing houses in New-York, whose decision should be final in the matter, as the following paragraph form our letter of 2d March, 1847, to Messrs. Baker & Scribner will more fully show:
“In order to settle the difficulty between us, although we are satisfied we are in the right, but we wish also to place ourselves in the right before the Trade; we propose to leave the matter for final decision to two publishing houses, (in your city if you choose,) one to be selected by yourselves and the other chosen by us, which two in case they should not be able to agree to call in a third whose decision (from the whole correspondence between yourselves, Mr. Headley, and ourselves) as to whether you or us shall have the publication of Mr. Headley’s ‘Washington and his Generals’, on the terms you have agreed with him, shall be conclusive. (It is of course requisite that Mr. Headley’s consent should be first obtained by you to this proposition.) Should you accept of this arrangement please advise us of the same on or before the 8th inst.”
Had Mr. Headley and his publishers been satisfied that the course they were pursuing was a correct one they would gladly have accepted our offer. Farther comment we think unnecessary.
We have reason to congratulate ourselves that Mr. Headley did not become the author of our book, as we have been more fortunate in obtaining a work every way superior, and at the same time authentic, and by authors who have obtained their materials from “The Archives of the Separate States.” In support of the above we beg to quote the following from the Richmond Times:
“There are interesting circumstances attending the production of this work, and for ourselves, we do not regret Messrs. Carey & Hart’s disappointment. In lieu of the turgid declamations of Mr. Headley, they have obtained clearly written sensible sketches from a number of other gentlemen competent to the task allotted to them.”
In conclusion, we beg to say that we have been in business upward of eighteen years, during which time we have had transactions with many authors for numerous works, and to the amount of thousands of dollars, but this is the first time that we have been unfairly treated by an American Author. Yours, very respectfully, CAREY & HART
A CARD.—In Justice to C. F. Hoffman, Esq. we deem it proper to state that he is not the author of any portion of our book entitled “Washington and the Generals of the Revolution.” The Memoir of Gen. Schuyler, we were informed by the Editor, would be written by Mr. Hoffman for that work, and our Mr. Hart was under that impression at the time he attended the last New-York Trade Sale, and he there exhibited a specimen of the printing, engraving, binding and size of the volumes, and stated the names of several contributors to the book.
On the completion of the work a list of all the contributors was forwarded to us, for the purpose of making payment to the various authors for their contributions, and we then learned that the spirited Memoir of Gen. Schuyler contained in our book had not been written by him, but had been furnished by another writer in New-York.
CAREY & HART, Publishers of “Washington and the Generals of the Revolution.”
Philadelphia, Nov. 5, 1847
As Messrs. Baker & Scribner say they “had some reason to suspect,” we here annex a copy of our letter to them, (Oct. 8, 1846,) which, if they had referred to again, they would have noticed that we informed them of the very fact four months before “they suspected.”
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 8, 1846
“Messrs. Baker & Scribner:
“GENTLEMEN—Having seen a notice of yours in the “Commercial Advertiser” of the 6th of a work in press entitled “Washington and his Staff,” and thinking you might unintentionally interfere with a work we are preparing entitled “The Generals of the American Revolution,” and in regard to which had corresponded with Mr. Headley previous to the appearance of your announcement, we have thought it best to inform you prior to your proceeding with the work you announced, as we should be very sorry to have any misunderstanding with your house.
Yours, respectfully, CAREY & HART.”
If all of this blather were not enough, The Courier & Enquirer the same day published the following letter from Headley:
We publish the following letter from Mr. Headley, in accordance with the terms which we mentioned yesterday,--as an advertisement.
NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 1847
To the Editors of the Courier and Enquirer:--
I see that you publish this morning a letter from Mr. Griswold, in reply to my note of Wednesday last. The most of his letter has nothing to do with the point at issue,--which is simply a question of veracity between us. Of course I shall not argue that question with him; nor am I at all fearful that people who know Mr. Griswold’s manner of talking and who understand the constitutional infirmity which prevents his speaking the simple truth, should attach any importance to his additional falsehood that I have threatened “to ruin him, even if it costs all I possess and a life’s labor!”
As you have allowed him, however, to make this statement, I claim the right, (for which, if necessary, I will pay,) of stating that I never made such an absurd and ridiculous threat as this, which he pretends to quote from his veracious diary. That “Diary” should certainly be included in the next edition of Griswold’s “Curiosities of American Literature.”
But Mr. G. not only makes the facts he needs, to suit his own convenience, but attempts also to correct the facts of history. Here also he makes some statements which may as well be noticed. He says:
“After describing the defeat of St. Clair, in the Miami country, you allege that Washington, refusing to sympathize with the popular feeling against him, insisted on his retaining his commission, which he wished to resign; while, in truth, St. Clair wished to retain his commission, and Washington insisted upon his instant resignation.”
Now every reader of our early history knows very well that St. Clair ‘offered spontaneously to resign,’ and asked to retain his commission only till a Court of Enquiry could be called to investigate his conduct. To this manifestly just request Washington wished to accede, but could not; and the peremptory manner in which St. Clair was thrown aside was not the result of Washington’s displeasure, but of the great exigencies of the country. But the fact I was after, was, not which of the two proposed or desired the resignation, but that Washington “did not sympathize with the popular clamor” against St. Clair. And this is perfectly true: and Col. STONE, after speaking of the same event in his “Life of Bryant,” says:--
“It is believed, however, that the veteran Governor of the North Western Territory, continued in the full enjoyment of the President’s confidence to the last.”
The next charge is of somewhat more importance, and is thus set forth:--
“In the same chapter you state that numerous armed galleys, 200 boats, &c. sailed all the night of the evacuation of Ticonderoga, up Wood Creek, which, you should have known, is a small stream, not navigable, dashing precipitously over a ledge of rocks into the Champlain, some twenty miles from the point which the army is acknowledged to have left at midnight.”
The pains which Mr. Griswold takes to display his own ignorance is ludicrous. As to the simple matter of fact, NEILSON, who was brought up on the ground he describes, and who certainly knew as much about it as Mr. Griswold, says expressly in his “Burgoyne’s Campaigns,”—(p. 27)
“The passage at Ticonderoga being cleared, the ships of Burgoyne immediately entered Wood Creek and proceeded with extreme rapidity in search of the Americans.”
Again BOTTA, in his ‘History of the American Revolution,’ in speaking of the same affair says:--
“The general rendezvous was appointed at Skeensborough, [now Whitehall,] and the batteaux, proceeding, under cover of the galleys, up Wood Creek, &c.”—(p. 46)
And again the same writer says:--
“The passage being thus cleared, [referring to the boom and bridge,] the ships of Burgoyne immediately entered Wood Creek.”
Both these writers, though Mr. Griswold be ignorant of them, are generally regarded as good authority among persons of ordinary intelligence. The truth is, that the whole narrow channel at the head of Lake Champlain was formerly called Wood Creek, and sometimes a part of it only was so designated, and the other portion was called South River. Now, the name of Wood Creek applies only to the small stream which falls into Lake Champlain at Whitehall. But history describes things of the past, as they were,--not as they become a century after.—Somebody probably quizzed Mr. Griswold by pointing out this “grave historical blunder;”—and the bee has been buzzing “in his bonnet” ever since.
I see that Carey & Hart have again garbled my letter. As I informed you in a private note, which accompanied my published letter of Wednesday last, I wished to publish the letter entire, but could not get hold of it. The extract I gave was copied from Carey & Hart’s copy of the original, last spring, when Mr. Hart was showing it around town to get sympathy from the booksellers, and, on the strength of it, sell their book. I directed my publishers to write to Mr. Hart requesting a copy of my letter. They did so,--but hitherto he has declined to send it or publish it himself. Under these circumstances I certainly stand absolved from the charge they bring, of “garbling” the letter. The only point they raise in their preface is, that they suggested the book to me, and that I stole and appropriated the suggestion. That point is settled by the extract I gave. Let them publish the whole letter and then the public can determine where the dishonesty rests. Yours, &c.,
J. T. Headley
Monday, November 10, 2014
The following letter, written by me, appeared in the New York Tribune for November 10, 1847, continuing the idiotic fracas between Headley and myself:
To the Editor of The Tribune:
I cannot of course take any notice of such a letter as that under the signature of J. T. Headley in The Tribune of this morning. It did not need your assurance to convince me that you never dreamed of authorizing, in the slightest degree, its imputations by neglecting to rebuke them. Mr. Headley has utterly abandoned all his original charges; and with a brief recapitulation of his controversy with myself, and a reference to Carey & Hart’s letters in the Courier of today for a statement of his dealing with that house, I leave him to the judgment of the public.
In a letter written to the Courier and Enquirer, on the 2d inst. he attempted a reply to a card published by Carey & Hart; censured the journals for unwarrantable interference in his “private affairs,” and in this connexion made particular reference to the Richmond Enquirer and the Literary World, remarking of the latter as follows:
“The Literary World has made itself prominent in this affair, and for the benefit of those who have hitherto considered it a fair literary journal, I would state that the articles on the subject have been written, chiefly, if not wholly, by Rufus W. Griswold, who wrote the first sixty pages of Carey & Hart’s book, and who for certain considerations, growing out of his connection with these publishers, has undertaken their defence in New-York. Mr. Hoffman has lent the Literary World to this interested person.”
The accusations are, of making myself a party to his business quarrels, by writing of them in the Literary World; of reviewing favorably a work in which I am interested as an author; and of undertaking in New-York the defence of Carey & Hart, against himself. Though unwilling to take any notice of so wanton and unjustifiable an attack, I at length concluded, as it was altogether personal in its nature, to publish the following explicit and unqualified denial in the Courier and Enquirer of the 4th inst,:
“I beg leave to state that every allegation here made is wholly and unqualifiedly false. Respecting the book I am charged with reviewing, (“Washington and the Generals of the American Revolution,”) or the controversy between J. T. Headley and its publishers, I have not written or published, caused to be written or published, or, (except by reading printed articles on the subject,) known to be written or published, a single syllable.”
The reader should bear in mind that no review of Carey & Hart’s book has appeared in the Literary World, except the one in the number for the 24th of October, before which time that journal never contained a word which the most ingenious malice could torture into an allusion to Mr. Headley’s difficulties. That his original charges had exclusive reference to this review of “Washington and the Generals of the American Revolution,” is sufficiently evident from the terms in which they are stated; and it is distinctly admitted in his communication to the Courier and Enquirer of the 5th, in which he quotes a passage from this very review as having suggested a part of his first defamatory letter. Yet, convinced that they are utterly groundless, instead of ingenuously retracting his accusations, a endeavors to convey an impression that they had reference to an article in the Literary World for the 10th of last July—months before the appearance of Carey & Hart’s book, and, before the public had heard a word of his quarrels with that house! With an effrontry as shameless as it is shallow, he attempts to divert attention from his conviction and confession of falsehoods, by urging that I was myself, in a conversation held with him last September, his authority for a statement that I was the writer of an article thus dragged into the discussion, as if it were of the slightest consequence to the issues he had raised whether I wrote that article or not.
There is no “question of veracity” between myself and J. T. Headley, as he has entirely withdrawn from every position that led me to notice him, and has not ventured to meet my denials, even by the objection of his own word—the value of which I will not discuss, as it is sufficiently shown by the letter of Carey & Hart, this day published in the Courier and Enquirer.
Nov. 9, 1847 Yours, &c. R. W. GRISWOLD.
Also appearing on November 10 was this piece of commentary on the whole affair, which was published in the New York Evening Mirror, and which seems to take a few swipes at Headley, to my great joy:
HEADLEY AND HIS CRITICS.—We should suggest this title to Mr. Headley as a very good one for a new book of blood and thunder, if he should not be engaged on any similar work just now. The whigs being about to take possession of the country, and being great lovers of peace and quietness, according to the Tribune, will probably bring the Mexican war to an immediate close, and so destroy the popular taste for smoke, and the slap dash style of literature, which has helped the sale of Mr. Headley’s war sketches to such a frightful extent. Whether we are indebted to Mr. Headley for the present appetite for bloodshed that prevails in the country, or Mr. Headley be himself indebted for his popularity to the innate existence of such a passion, it is not necessary to inquire; it is enough to know that the passion and the popularity have both existed, although they seem to be both on the wane. To keep up the excitement, Mr. H. addressed a letter to the Courier and Enquirer, smelling horribly of brimstone, blood and saltpetre, denouncing a respectable book-publisher in Philadelphia, the editor of the Literary World, and Mr. H.’s own special panegyrist, Dr. Griswold, as a trio of literary enemies to himself, and accused them of practices which ought not to be dreamed of as possible by a literary gentleman.
These gentlemen all deny point blank the charges of their accuser, who then renews his charges in a more offensive form, and threatens war to the—knife, we were going to say, but to a “court of justice;” it seems the “fighting parson” means to carry the cause. Some of the papers notice this quarrel and speak of it as one with which the public has nothing to do. But we think it is just one of those cases in which the reading public is particularly interested. The quarrel between Mr. Headley and Carey & Hart the public have no right to meddle with, as long as they keep their differences to themselves, but the moment they appeal to the public, then the public is bound to take sides in the quarrel, and declare for the injured party. If the belligerents do not want to be judged harshly, let them keep their affairs to themselves. The cause of dissension between Carey & Hart and Mr. Headley is a very simple matter. Messrs. C. & H. wrote a letter to Mr. Headley, stating to that gentleman that they proposed publishing a work to be called Washington and the Generals of the Revolution, or something like it, and asked him if he would undertake to write it; to this letter Mr. Headley replies that he had been thinking of doing something of the kind himself but was not sure of his qualifications for the undertaking, didn’t know exactly where to look for the necessary materials, &c., but neither said that he would, nor that he would not; they hear nothing more from Mr. Headley until they see an announcement by a firm in this city of a new work by that gentleman, to be called Washington and his Generals. Messrs. Carey & Hart believe that they have been wronged by Mr. Headley, who makes use of their ideas in getting up a new work, and immediately take measures to publish a similar one themselves, which in time they do, and the public is left to choose between the two works. IN regard to the right of title to the idea of the work, another claimant starts up in the person of George Lippard, of Philadelphia, who says that he had used it before either of the other claimants has suggested it. By referring to a back number of the Mirror, it will be seen that on the first appearance of Napoleon and his Marshals, we suggested that “Washington and his Generals” would be a good subject for Mr. Headley to employ his pen upon next.
It will thus be seen that the title of the work was by no means an exclusive idea, but Mr. Headley having been applied to by Carey & Hart before he had taken any measures for the production of the work, or even settled with himself the important point of his fitness to undertake it, they had a prior right of invention in having taken steps to produce it, and their application to Mr. Headley at least gave them a right to his work provided the terms they offered him were equal to those offered by another publisher, even though it did not give them right of title in the plan of the work. Since the two works have been published, Mr. Headley has accused Mr. Hoffman of writing a part of the work published by Carey & Hart, and of then publishing a review of it in the Literary World, written by Dr. Griswold, who puffed Mr. Hoffman’s portion of it as well as his own, and then accepted pay for writing the review. To all of these charges these two gentlemen make a plump and unqualified denial.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
ON THE TRAGIC DEATH OF THE WIFE OF THE REVEREND RUFUS GRISWOLD, POE'S DEFAMER BY WILLIAM TOPAZ MCGONAGALL
The following unpublished and possibly never before seen poem by the Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall was found amongst my son William's papers, sent to him in a letter dated November 9th, 1892, commemorating the death of my wife Caroline Griswold. He attempted to have it published, but for reasons that elude me not a single publication ever printed it. Even my own poem on the subject, Five Days, found publication, despite its poetical deficiencies. My endless thanks go out to McGonagall for his kindness and sympathy.
ON THE TRAGIC DEATH OF THE WIFE OF THE REVEREND RUFUS GRISWOLD, POE'S DEFAMER
BY WILLIAM TOPAZ MCGONAGALL
For poor Rufus Griswold few tears have been shed,
Because of his treatment of Edgar Allan Poe after he was dead,
But hear ye this tragic tale I shall to ye relate,
And for Rufus Griswold I think ye shall harbour less hate.
In 1842, t'was a grim second Wednesday of the month of November,
For an event occurred that all should remember,
For on this tragic day, November nine,
The Reverend Rufus Griswold lost his sweet wife, Caroline.
To Griswold's third child, a son, his wife in New York had just given birth,
But the occasion was swiftly robbed of its mirth,
For as soon as he had returned to Philadelphia,
Both Caroline and her newborn became most unhealthy.
While dining with friends at the Jones Hotel,
A messenger arrived with the dreadful news to tell,
That back in New York, which he had three days ago left,
Both his wife and his baby had died, and he was quite bereft.
Griswold's heart was full of dismay,
With the news that his bride had been taken away,
And his lamentations must have been terrible to see;
I'd wager his cries could be heard e'en 'round bonnie Dundee.
'Neath his burning brow the tears did heavily drop,
And all the way back to New York his weeping did not stop,
Until when he arrived he embraced and kissed her cold corpse,
As his daughters waited with him for his grief to run its course.
And his face as he caressed her was horrible to behold,
As he cut off locks of her hair to have and to hold,
To save as a keepsake of his wife, lost to him on November nine,
Which he would mourn and remember for a very long time.
She was placed in her vault on November eleventh,
And he could not doubt her soul had ascended to heaven,
And to almighty God he begged and complained,
And that night at midnight he wrote her a poem that was much tear-stained.
Forty days Griswold suffered with grief and pain and sadness,
And his friends and relatives thought he had been plunged into madness,
For though she was entombed, by him she could not be forgotten,
So he entered her tomb and kissed her, not caring if she was rotten.
All the night long he held her dead body in his arms,
For he loved her too much to be frightened of germs,
And he cut off more hair and on her cold breast he slept,
Until in the morning when he was dragged from her crypt.
So, good Christians, keep Griswold in your heart every ninth of November,
Even those of you who otherwise would his memory dismember,
For if he had not on this day suffered so much of woe,
His life may have been happier, and he may not have libelled Poe.
Not even the dead bloating in the depths of the silvery Tay,
Could elicit such grief as that suffered by Griswold this day,
For of the many tragedies that I have in verse so far chronicled,
This is the worst by far, yours truly, the poet, William McGonagall.
If I still had a heart it would now be broken.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Friday, November 7, 2014
The Courier & Enquirer having refused to continue occupying its columns with our dispute, the New York Tribune for November 7th, 1847, published the following note from the impudent Mr. Headley, in which he shamelessly suggests that I have a penchant for dishonesty:
November 7th, 1847
NEW YORK. Nov. 6.
To the Editor of the Tribune:
I see that Rufus Griswold publishes a letter in your paper of this morning in reply to my note in the Courier & Enquirer of Thursday, most of which has nothing to do with the point at issue, which is simply a question of veracity between us. Of course I cannot stoop to argue such a question with him, but I am surprised that you who know Mr. Griswold perfectly well, and to say the least, the unfortunate habit he has of stating things incorrectly, should have allowed him to state the additional and ridiculous falsehood that I had threatened “to ruin him, even if it cost me all I possessed and a life’s labor.” The object of this note is to deny what seems scarcely necessary to deny, that I never made such an absurd and foolish threat as this which he pretends to quote from his convenient “diary.” That diary must be curiosity.
Yours truly, J. T. HEADLEY.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
The Courier & Enquirer refused to publish the following unnecessarily lengthy reply to Headley's most recent attacks, so my good friend Horace Greeley agreed to print this in his New York Tribune for November 6th, 1847:
[Rufus W. Griswold having appealed to our personal friendship for an opportunity to reply to certain grave imputations on his conduct and veracity put forth by Mr. J. T. Headley in yesterday’s Courier & Enquirer, we most reluctantly make room for the article yesterday offered by him to the Courier and refused an insertion. It is as follows. Ed. Trib.]
NEW YORK. Friday Morning, Nov. 5, 1847.
To the Editor of the Courier and Enquirer:
I regretted very much that the publication in your journal of J. T. Headley’s recent attack made it necessary for me to appear as a party to a controversy in which neither myself nor the public has any interest; and I regret still more that—knowing all the circumstances—you should have admitted to the Courier & Enquirer of this morning the letter which compels me to this rejoinder. The readers of these notes will not need to be informed that I have written and now write in the defensive only, and will believe my assertion that it is with extreme reluctance that I have anything to do in such a conflict or with such an antagonist.
J. T. Headley charged me distinctly with making myself a party to his controversies, by writing of them in the Literary World, and with reviewing favorably in that journal a rival publication of which I was a principal author and in which I had an interest. In the Courier & Enquirer of this morning he alleges that in a conversation with me I had admitted the truth of his statements. But I have not seen him, or had the slightest communication with him, except on one occasion—the 24th of September—for more than a year; while the review in question appeared in the Literary World of the 23rd of October, and the same paper contained every syllable that has ever appeared in that journal respecting his publishing quarrels. Of course, his first charge was utterly false. In his last letter he makes a new issue, charging me with the authorship of an article on one of his publications, in the Literary World of the 10th of last July and with having stated in a conversation with him that for that article I was paid as a literary contribution. All of this is of little consequence, and it has nothing to do with his first accusations. But as I have before alleged that I never had written in the Literary World for a consideration, I deem it proper now to deny that I ever made a contrary statement.
I might here terminate my reply to the assertion that I am a party to his quarrels; but, as Mr. Headley has chosen to refer to a private conversation with me, I must be permitted to state what really passed in that conversation, which I am able to do from having for years kept a personal diary. Upon referring to this, I find that on the morning of the 24th of Sept. I encountered Mr. Headley in Broadway, where, after some conversation irrelevant to the present issue, he charged me with writing an article upon his second volume in the Literary World, and also with writing a book in opposition to his own, for Carey & Hart. Deeming it absurd for Mr. Headley or any other person to dictate to authors what they should or should not write, I declined any acknowledgement or denial in the premises. In the conversation which followed, however, I stated that Carey & Hart had applied to me, upon the conclusion of their correspondence with himself, to write the work they proposed to publish; that I had declined, on the ground that while I could not deny the justness of their action, I was unwilling to engage in a work which would lead to controversy, particularly as Mr. Headley was an acquaintance; that I had endeavored to induce them to adjust the matter with him in an amicable manner, which I believe they had attempted to do; that subsequently, on the request of Carey & Hart—who had for several years been my publishers, whom I held in much respect, and to whom I was under obligations for their uniform courtesy and liberality, --I consented to write two or three of the biographies in their collection. In regard to his assertion respecting an article in the Literary World, I expressed some surprise. “You need not deny it,” he said; “I knew you wrote it before it had been printed 24 hours.” “The editor of that journal is responsible for the article, whoever is its author, as he adopted it.” I answered; “but you have little cause to complain of it, since, if I am not mistaken, it is in a very kindly spirit, recognizing the real merits of your work, and only showing that it is not history, for which you could scarcely have intended it, but dashing historical romance, well enough fitted to attract attention to historical studies.” He seemed to be irritated, and declared that there was not a book in our literature more accurate in its statements. “Why,” I observed, “after, describing the defeat of St. Clair, in the Miami country, you allege that Washington, refusing to sympathize with the popular feeling against him, insisted on his retaining his commission, which he wished to resign;” while, in truth, as you would have seen by Washington’s own letter, in the 10th volume of Sparks. St. Claire wished to RETAIN his commission, and Washington insisted upon his instant resignation, for the obvious reason that a commander must be in the field in whom the army had confidence. In the same chapter, “I continued, “you state that numerous armed galleys, 200 boats, &c. sailed all the night of the evacuation of Ticonderoga, up Wood Creek, which, you should have known, is a small stream, not navigable, dashing precipitously over a ledge of rocks into the Champlain, some twenty miles from the point which the army is acknowledged to have left at midnight. Your books are full of similar errors, and it is a common duty, when such things are published as history, to correct them.” I assured him that for the articles I had contributed to Carey & Hart’s volume, they had paid me, and that I had not the slightest interest in the copyright. He repeated the assertion that I had written a severe criticism of his book, with interested motives. I said that I was an occasional but always gratuitous contributor to the journals, upon whatever I read that might be made a subject of interesting discussion; and that the errors in his late work were of so strange and amusing a character, that any one might be excused for pointing them out, especially if, immediately after reading it, a friend had asked him for a paper, as had been the case in this instance. I assured him I had never written a line respecting any author that I thought should be personally offensive; nor did I then, nor do I now admit, that exposing an author’s mistakes should involve a reviewer in his business quarrels with publishers. Mr. Headley appeared to be very much excited, and exclaimed, “No man shall ever cross my path but I will have my revenge. You have done so, and I will ruin you, if it costs me all I possess, and a life’s labor.” Upon this, of course, we parted.
It will be easy to understand the feeling which induced Mr. Headley to turn aside from his controversy with Carey & Hart to attack me; and I need not urge that one who writes public history, in which he has no personal interest, in such a reckless manner, may err in detailing private conversations, when it becomes necessary to do so to escape from such a position as that in which Mr. Headley had placed himself. [With this communication I terminate all participation in a conflict into which, it will be confessed, I was most ungenerously forced by the editors of the Courier & Enquirer, by printing an attack upon me as uncalled for as it was unjust.]
Yours, &c. R. W. Griswold
Note—With regard to the letter of Mr. Baker upon the subject of the Editor of the Literary World having written a portion of Cary & Hart’s book, lately reviewed with favor in that journal, I deem it due to Mr. Hart to state, that he probably derived the impression from myself (last Spring) that the author of the Life of Leisler, in Spark’s collection, would readily undertake the biographies of eminent New-Yorkers, in a similar miscellany—That gentleman’s subsequent accession to the editorship of the Literary World prevented him from furnishing the expected contributions to the work. The words above which are placed in brackets [ ] have been added to the manuscript since it was offered for publication in the Courier & Enquirer. R. W. G.
TO BE CONTINUED.
The following trifle from Mr. Headley appeared in the New York Courier & Enquirer for November 5th, 1847, in response to my eloquent letter of the previous day:
In giving place to the letter of Mr. HEADLEY a few days since, we desired simply to give him an opportunity of exculpating himself from the charge brought against him by Messrs. Carey & Hart of Philadelphia, of having availed himself of their suggestions in regard to his work entitled “Washington and his Generals.” They supported their charge by publishing a portion of Mr. Headley’s letter. And Mr. HEADLEY replied to it by publishing another portion of the same letter.
We have now received a long rejoinder from Messrs. Carey & Hart, containing still another extract from the same letter, accompanied by copious quotations from correspondence that was had upon the subject between themselves and another publishing house in this city, together with the opinions of various persons and papers as to the merits of the rival works. We would cheerfully publish this letter, long as it is, if it would end the controversy or our connection with it:--but it would simply involve new issues and new parties, and probably render necessary the publication of five times as much more. We must, therefore, decline publishing it, though we will very cheerfully give place to any reply from Messrs. Carey & Hart which may be confined to the matter in controversy, viz—the contents of Mr. Headley’s letter of Sept. 21, 1846. Each party has sought to make out his case by quoting extracts from that letter:--clearly the only course by which the public can form any intelligent and impartial judgment in the premises, is by the publication of the whole letter, precisely as it stands in the original. It certainly is not fair to ask the use of our columns for subsequent correspondence between other parties.
We have already published the replies of Mr. HOFFMAN and Mr. GRISWOLD to the first letter of Mr. HEADLEY. The insertion of the following rejoinder to them both, is clearly due to Mr. Headley; and here, we trust, we shall be allowed to end the controversy, so far as this paper is concerned, with the exception specified above:--Eds. Cour. & Enq.
NEW YORK, Nov. 4th.
To the Editors of the Courier and Enquirer:--
GENTLEMEN:--In a letter recently addressed to you, designed to expose the false statements of Messrs. Carey & Hart, I alluded at the close to the part Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Griswold had taken in the work in question. I believed at the time that these gentlemen had written a portion of that work, and hence, in their laudations of it and condemnation of me, regarded them as acting as unjustly towards the public as towards myself. Under the same belief, I should make the same statement over again,--come what would of it. I said in the first place that Mr. Griswold was an interested person, and as such, had not only written articles for the Literary World, but been paid for doing so. I supposed I was justified in making the statement, for Mr. Griswold was my authority.
After two articles had appeared in the Literary World, one purporting to be a review of my book, but the whole scope of which was to throw discredit on its facts, and the other an extract from the forthcoming work of Carey & Hart, written by Mr. Griswold, accompanied with a heading, stating that the latter ‘could be relied upon,’—I met Mr. Griswold, and told him that I knew him to be author of those articles, and was astonished at some of his statements, and knew his motives. He expressed some surprise that I knew him to be the author of the first article, and then said that he had not written them to injure me, but that he was under many obligations to Carey & Hart, that he was connected with the house, &c. &c., and added, as another reason for what he had done, that for the first mentioned article he was paid by the paper as a literary contribution.
This he stated to me himself; and if he did not tell me the truth, I am sorry for it. I need not add, that I never make such a statement as this, without being ready to repeat it in a court of justice. If Mr. Griswold dare deny it, I will give him ample occasion to defend his veracity before I have finally done with him.
I also said that “I had been credibly informed” that Mr. HOFFMAN wrote a portion of that work, and a portion too which had been praised in the Literary World. Mr. HOFFMAN in his passion could not have weighed well my statement or he would not have used the language he did. In it I did not assert the fact—I did not even express my belief in it. I simply said “I had been credibly informed” that it was so. Whether “I had been credibly informed” or not, the following declaration will determine:--
NEW YORK, 174 Nassau st., Nov. 8.
Dear Sir—I informed you that I heard Mr. HART himself say explicitly, that Mr. HOFFMAN wrote the sketch of Schuyler in his work entitled “Washington and the Generals of the Revolution.”
ISAAC D. BAKER, of House
Baker & Scrivner.
The article on Schuyler, was one of those to which the expressions, “elegance, grace,” &c., were applied in the Literary World. With the same facts before me I should make the same declaration over again. I will not retract one whit of my statement, that “I was credibly informed,” and yet I most cheerfully acknowledge that I fully believe Mr. Hoffman’s denial;--nay, more, I would believe him though both Griswold and Hart asserted directly the contrary. I cannot blame myself in the premises; and yet I sincerely regret that the recklessness of others should have caused me to give currency to an error and thereby do Mr. H. a wrong. I can assure Mr. Hoffman that such has always been my high opinion of his character that I would not have believed even the strong testimony I possessed, had it not been backed by circumstantial evidence—but believing it I could not but despise the act. I am glad to believe the statement false, though it grieves me to know I have injured his feelings unjustly. With regard to the harsh epithet he applies to me, I must hand it back to him, and hold it there until he retracts it. The whole matter is of very little consequence to me except as it involves the question of veracity, for my business was with Carey & Hart, but I can assure Mr. H. that I am not the only one who thinks he as allowed Mr. Griswold to ride the Literary World too much, for Carey & Hart.
J. T. HEADLEY
TO BE CONTINUED.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
On the morning of November 4th, 1847, the following letter, written by me in response to Headley's allegations, appeared in the New York Courier & Enquirer:
NEW YORK, NOV. 2, 1847.
To the Editors of the Courier & Enquirer:--
GENTLEMEN,--To the following paragraph, published under the signature of J.T. Headley, in your paper of yesterday, my attention was called when it was too late to join my reply to that of another party who was libelled in the same article:--
“The Literary World has made itself prominent in this affair, and for the benefit of those who have hitherto considered it a fair literary journal, I would state that the articles on the subject have been written chiefly, if not wholly, by Rufus W. Griswold, who wrote the first sixty pages of Carey & Hart’s book, and who for certain considerations, growing out of his connection with these publishers, has undertaken their defence in New York. Mr. Hoffman has lent the Literary World to this interested person, and while he has given him his columns, has made the proprietors pay him also for his articles.”
I beg to state that every allegation here made is wholly and unqualifiedly false. Respecting the book I am charged with reviewing, (“Washington and the Generals of the American Revolution,”) or the controversy between J.T. Headley and its publishers, I have not written or published, or caused to be written or published, or, (except by reading printed articles on the subject,) know, to be written or published, a single syllable. Mr. HOFFMAN has not lent to me the Literary World, nor have the proprietors of that journal ever paid me, or been under obligation to pay me, a farthing, on any account whatever. I am not in the slightest degree, directly or indirectly, interested in the book in question, nor have I had any thing to do with the disagreements between J.T. Headley and its publishers. I have not undertaken their defence in New York, nor do I know or believe they desire or need any defence or statement to be made in the premises, which they are not abundantly supplied with materials to make in their own behalf.
I am respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
R. W. GRISWOLD.
Pay no attention to the fact that some of what I say is perhaps belied by the following entry in my diary, from September 24th of the same year:
Met Headley in the street. He is angry at a review I printed in the Literary World of his Washington and His Generals.
Am I not a stinker?
TO BE CONTINUED.