Monday, April 21, 2014

Lincoln's Favorite Humorist Artemus Ward and His Wartime Bohemian New York Crowd 1864

Source: - Artemus Ward (CHARLES FARRAR BROWNE) A Biography and Bibliography BY DON C. SEITZ 1919 (Don Carlos Seitz 1862-1935) 
(original copyright expired)

The long island of Manhattan seems at every point in history to have staked a claim on the horizon and built its boulevards and structures toward that point towards the rising, setting or noonday New York City sun. And later upward to that very same star itself.

I would guess that around the middle of the American Civil War, that Manhattan was headed toward that turn in Broadway at Grace Church around Tenth Street and headed further uptown to Union Square and uncharted points beyond, and toward those then great sheep meadows and cow pastures of Central Park.

The literary and artsy cognoscenti of the day, the then Bohemians of New York in a watered down crowd, thinned out by the ranks of war, kept up the spirits and voice of culture around the hub of Broadway and Bleecker Street and referenced below.

The spirit or flavor of the moment, the "in" people of the moment, might have been best described by a favorite of the Walt Whitman’s Pfaff cellar crowd Ada Clare defining a Bohemian as a:

 "cosmopolite, with a general sympathy for the fine arts, and for all things above and beyond convention"

“…The De Soto, a restaurant on Bleecker Street just
east of Broadway, was his favorite dining-place. Here
there was usually a coterie of choice spirits to aid in
enjoyment of the meal. One of these survives in the
person of George H. Story, the eminent artist, long
curator of paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of
Art, whose wife, Eunice Emerson Kimball, had been a
fellow-member with A. W. in the Thespian Club at
Norway, Maine, long before.

Dining here one day with Story, David Wambold,
the minstrel, Dan Bryant, and some others, one of
the unknown persisted in making some boresome, child-
ish remarks in competition with the genuine wits.
He became a nuisance, but was silenced at last by
A. W., who took out his note-book and gravely inquired,
"What is your age, sir?"

Mrs. Story was a relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
who had been a familiar figure in Waterford, and was
a sister of Charles P. and Hannibal I. Kimball, both
men of note in Norway when young and who later in
life had distinguished careers, the first as a great
manufacturer in Chicago and the second as the recreator
of Atlanta, Georgia.

One night the Storys went to the show, sitting well
up front. Cracking a joke that elicited much applause,
Artemus explained, much to the confusion of the lady,
that it was an old one, first used in Norway, Maine,
when he and "Eune Kimball played together in the
Thespian Society!" …


- Artemus Ward (CHARLES FARRAR BROWNE) A Biography and Bibliography BY DON C. SEITZ 1919 -

(Photos - Above Link) (original copyrights expired)

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