Tuesday, June 12, 2007

An interesting discovery on the streets of New York...An autographed book from nearly 150 years ago!

A picture of Saxe and a facsimile of his signature from his expanded book of poetry in 1853.

Below you will see his autograph that was in that book from April 11, 1859.
Sadly the book and the autograph have not fared well. I cannot make out where it was(what town or city) that he signed the book, for it is so faded.

It seems that he wrote the name of where he was, but now it is so hard to read (almost looks like Concord). But the signature is in the back of the book on one of the blank pages after the proper part of the book. I have always been one to look in all parts of old books to see if anyone wrote anything anywhere. It is on the blank pages I have found many interesting things on many old books.

I was wondering who this fellow was. It seems he was quite famous in his day. I must confess though, I had never heard of him.

The faceplate of his book and a picture of him taken many years after the fact in New York.

Here's what was said of John G. Saxe by Evert A. & George L. Duyckinck in The Cyclopedia of American Literature in 1880..........
"John G. Saxe was born at Highgate, Franklin County, Vermont, June 2, 1816. He was graduated at Middlebury College in 1839, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and has since been engaged in the practice of the profession in his native State.
"In 1849 Mr. Saxe published a volume of Poems including Progress, a Satire, originally delivered at a college commencement, and a number of shorter pieces, many of which had previously appeared in the Knickerbocker magazine.
"In the same year Mr. Saxe delivered a poem on The Times before the Boston Mercantile Library Association. This production is included in the enlarged edition of his volume, in 1852. He has since frequently appeared before the public on college and other anniversaries, as the poet of the occasion, well armed with the light artillery of jest and epigram."
A lawyer and a poet. Quite a combo. But it seems he was always in many magazines of the period and always could be found in monthly periodicals such as Century, Harper's, Knickerbocker, and many others. He seemed highly prolific till his death in 1887.
I took it on a whim as I had never heard of this man...Little did I know it was not only quite an interesting read but also autographed!
Here is a piece from that book....Also one the earliest uses of the term "happy as a clam"

Sonnet to a Clam
Dum tacent clamant
INGLORIOUS friend! most confident I am
Thy life is one of very little ease;
Albeit men mock thee with their similes
And prate of being "happy as a clam!"
What though thy shell protects thy fragile head
From the sharp bailiffs of the briny sea?
Thy valves are, sure, no safety-valves to thee,
While rakes are free to desecrate thy bed,
And bear thee off--as foemen take their spoil--
Far from thy friends and family to roam;
Forced, like a Hessian, from thy native home,
To meet destruction in a foreign broil!
Though thou art tender yet thy humble bard
Declares, O clam! thy case is shocking hard!
. . . . .
Here is another, but a little later in 1859
How Cyrus Laid the Cable
A Ballad
COME, listen all unto my song;
It is no silly fable;
'T is all about the mighty cord
They call the Atlantic Cable.
Bold Cyrus Field he said, says he,
I have a pretty notion
That I can run a telegraph
Across the Atlantic Ocean.
Then all the people laughed, and said,
They'd like to see him do it;
He might get half-seas-over, but
He never could go through it.
To carry out his foolish plan
He never would be able;
He might as well go hang himself
With his Atlantic Cable.
But Cyrus was a valiant man,
A fellow of decision;
And heeded not their mocking words,
Their laughter and derision.
Twice did his bravest efforts fail,
And yet his mind was stable;
He wa'n't the man to break his heart
Because he broke his cable.
"Once more, my gallant boys!" he cried:
"Three times!--you know the fable,--
(I'll make it thirty," muttered he,
"But I will lay the cable!")
Once more they tried,--hurrah! hurrah!
What means this great commotion?
The Lord be praised! the cable's laid
Across the Atlantic Ocean!
Loud ring the bells,--for, flashing through
Six hundred leagues of water,
Old Mother England's benison
Salutes her eldest daughter!
O'er all the land the tidings speed,
And soon, in every nation,
They'll hear about the cable with
Profoundest admiration!
Now, long live President and Queen;
And long live gallant Cyrus;
And may his courage, faith, and zeal
With emulation fire us;
And may we honor evermore
The manly, bold, and stable;
And tell our sons, to make them brave,
How Cyrus laid the cable!

John Godfrey Saxe......For me now I can say to you sir, Nice to meet you!