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Mac comes down for Henry
X Mac Jackson's Statistical Authorship Analysis
Arguments for Henry's authorship        Henry's Poetry        Moore's Poetry X
X First Publication        Smoking Gun?        Happy Christmas        Reindeer Names        Timeline X
X Henry by Slideshow        Henry by Book        X
Overview TEXT VERSIONS
Description The Troy Sentinel 1823
Description Grigg's Almanack for 1825
Description McClure Almanac for 1825
Description Poughkeepsie Journal 1828
Description Troy Sentinel Broadsheet 1830
Description Annals of Philadelphia 1830
Description Historic Tales of Olden Times 1833
Description New-York Book of Poetry 1837
Description Selections from the American Poets 1840
Description New-York Mirror 1841
Description The Rover 1843
Description Moore's Poems 1844
Overview

As part of the project to discover the truth behind the disputed authorship of Account of A Visit From St. Nicholas, I collected early versions of the poem. Don Foster's guess was that if the poem was not Moore's, it might not have stayed in Moore's household from 1823, when it was taken by a guest to the Troy Sentinel, until 1844, when Moore would have wanted to put it into his own book. But if that was the case, Moore might have had to go to a recent published version to get a copy for his book. The more elements in Moore's 1844 copy that could be shown to have been created by earlier editors, the more likely it was that the poem hadn't been Moore's to start with.

In my attempt to convert parts of my research site into a public site, I've tried to keep some of the research elements, so that you could have the fun of being your own detective. I had a ball working on this, so I'm assuming that you might enjoy making the trip yourself. In that vein, you'll find that I've put line numbers on each line of the versions to make it easier to compare between versions. I've chosen to keep a continuous numbering for the two 24 line extract versions, but I'm open to changing that to numbering that correlates to the longer versions if people aren't happy with the current approach.

I've put the parts of the poem that change between versions (other than punctuation) in red. As for the punctuation changes, never again will I believe that everyone agrees on how to punctuate a sentence. In these versions, you'll find that no one agrees!

The Night Before Christmas," An Exhibition Catalogue, Compiled by George H.M. Lawrence, The Pittsburgh Bibliophiles, Pittsburgh PA, 1964.





Troy Sentinel 1823


 Poem and Transcription
Troy Sentinel 1823
The Troy [N.Y.] Sentinel. Tuesday, December 23, 1823; p.2, col.5.


NOTES:
Contractions abound.

Since most of the poems that we have of Henry's are written before A Visit From St. Nicholas was published in 1823, it is more significant for Henry to reuse phrases from "A Visit From St. Nicholas" than it is for Moore to do so. Hemry wouldn't, after all, have known of those phrases while writing his voluminous early work.

Moore, on the other hand, knows of the poem when writing any of his poems between 1823 and 1844, when he published his book. Remember, most of Moore's poems are written later than Henry's, because Moore is in the generation of Henry's children.


Line 1: x too common use of 'Twas to have any significance
Line 2: Careless
Beekman
Where a dear fellow-creature uplifteth its foot.
Run! Help the poor creature to light from her jade
Line 9: Beekman
Carrier's Address:
Tenant:
Then bounce all hands to Fishkill must go in a clutter
And now the end of all this clatter Is but a small and trifling matter;
Well Madam, the long and the short of the clatter
Line 13: Joanna And while as new fal'n snows thy spotless fame
Line 14: Rebus "Planet"
Rebus "Deity":
whose ray thro the gloom Of error's dark midnight can light up a noon;
whose far-beaming rays Can pour upon error meridian blaze.
Line 15: Easter The Angelic host, with wonder saw
Line 23: Dance And happy- thrice happy! too happy! the swain
Line 24: Joanna And children's children's children lisp thy name.
Line 42: Fervid Fly To keep the ringlets wreathed there.
Line 43-4: Timmy Or lob-lollys charming jelly Court thy cormorantal belly
Line 56: Letter to Sally A happy Christmas to my dear Sally Welles
[Don Foster found the first literary use of "happy Christmas"
   in the 1823 Christmas poem, but here is Henry using the
   term fifty years earlier, in 1773!]


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

The first known publication of the poem. It was allegedly submitted for publication to Orville L. Holley, editor of the Sentinel, by Miss Harriet Butler, of Troy, and presumably without the knowledge or consent of the author.

The editor, perhaps to forestall subsequent objections to his use of the manuscript, prefaced the poem with a 27-line explanation disclaiming any knowledge of the poet's identity, but justifying its publication on the grounds that:

"There is...a spirit of cordial goodness in it, a playfulness of fancy, and a benevolent alacrity to enter into the feelings and [to] promote the simple pleasures of children, which are altogether charming."

In this original version the unusual punctuation in lines 21 and 22 must be ascribed either to Miss Butler or editor HolleyNote, for Moore did not use them in his authorized versions. They are:

"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen, On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem[sic];"

It is to be noted also that in this original the last line reads -

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night."

The change to "Merry Christmas to all..." is not known to have occured until 1862, when it was substituted by James Gregory (Haight no. 19).

Note:
Actually, the change was made by the owner of the Troy Sentinel in his 1830 broadsheet, which he sent to Moore before Moore published the poem in his book. It seems most likely that Moore thought he was publishing the poem as it first appeared.


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Grigg's Almanack for 1825


 Poem and Transcription
Grigg's Almanack for 1825


NOTES:
It's probably because of the poem's appearance in almanacs such as Griggs and McClure's (see below) that the Christmas poem was so widely read at first. A gem of a poem, that early distribution allowed it's quality to shine.

Punctuation changes. Removes contractions.
Line 10: "sprang" becomes "sprung" strange; but later sprang left
Line 21: recognizes problems in reindeer name phrasing and has already fixed "now! Prancer, and Vixen" to "now Prancer and Vixen"
Line 28: first toy capitalized, second not; again strange


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

New Brunswick, (N.J.) Almanack, for the Year of Our Lord 1825 (pp. [25-26]). Calculated by Joshua Sharp. Printed by Griggs and Dickinson, Philadelphia, for Joseph C. Griggs, New Brunswick (New Jersey). The poem appears on the recto and verso of leaf C5 [pp.25-26] of the Haight copy. The poem, printed in full, is unaccompanied by a credit line to The Troy Sentinel, and the latter's prefatory commentary is omitted.

It is not known whether this Almanack preceded McClure's Almanac (no.3 below) or not. Both were probably published late in 1824. The two present the first publication of the poem in any book.


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McClure Almanac for 1825


 Transcription
McClure Almanac for 1825


NOTES:
Removing contractions. minor punctuation differences; sugar-plumbs;
Line 21 the same,
Line 22 the same phrasing but BLIXEN!!! rather than Blixem;

Happy Christmas and all the same. Basically it's the 1823 Troy Sentinel version with the Blixen difference.


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

The United States National Almanac ... (p.40). By David McClure. Philadelphia, R. Desilver.

McClure's National Almanac bears the title-page date 1825. The title was registered with the Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on 27 August 1824. The contents provide the usual calendar-almanac details for each month of 1825, including January. It is reasonable to believe that publication must have been late in 1824. It is placed here following the New Brunswick Almanack, only because of the imprint date of 1825 on its title page.


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Poughkeepsie Journal 1828


 Poem and Transcription
Poughkeepsie Journal 1828


NOTES:
Rough copy of poem published 1-16-28, before Henry dies on 2-29-28. Punctuation changes. Removing few contractions. Mistake of red deer for reindeer. Don thinks that mistake enough to say that the poem isn't coming out of Henry's house. I'm not so sure. Mama changes to the way he spells Mamma in a 1802 letter to his son Henry Welles Livingston. Also he frequently changes his punctuation between his handwritten poems and the published versions of the poems. If this was the published poem that Charles took back to Ohio, it would make a lot of sense.


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Troy Sentinel Broadsheet Abt. 1830


 Poem and Transcription
Troy Sentinel Broadsheet Abt. 1830


Very important version!

And could it be the Smoking Gun?


NOTES:
This is based off the original 1823 version, which makes sense since it's the same newspaper publishing the poem 7 years later. He's removing some contractions, but not all, as Griggs Almanack tries to do.

Line 6: sugar plums to sugar-plums;
Line 13: new fallen to new-fallen
Lines 21 and 22: Blixem is back, so the editor hasn't been influenced by the McClure version. But the editor has made masses of changes. Most important is this is where Line 21 and 22's present form comes from!!!
Lines 28 and 35: here is also where capitalized Toy shows up


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

Broadside, designed by Myron King. Printed by N. Tuttle, at the office of The Daily Troy Sentinel, 225 River-street. [Troy, N.Y.], n.d. [ca. 1830].

This is the first known illustrated publication, and first broadside, of the poem. Myron King, the artistic engraver, clearly based his figure of pipe-smoking St. Nicholas, in the reindeer-drawn sleigh, from Moore's poem (see Foreword, p. xvi).


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Watson's Annals of Philadelphia 1830


 Poem and Transcription
Watson's Annals of Philadelphia 1830


NOTES:
Major changes besides cropping out lines bringing the poem down to 24 lines. Rewrite of lines. As usual, big punctuation changes. Removing contractions. Spelling out Saint.


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

Watson, John F. Annals of Philadelphia, being a collection of memoirs, anecdoes, incidents of the City and its inhabitants from the days of the Pilgrim Founders (pp.242-243). Philadelphia, E.L. Carey & A. hart; New York, G. & C. & H. Carvill, 1830.

This is the first known illustrated publication, and first broadside, of the poem. Myron King, the artistic engraver, clearly based his figure of pipe-smoking St. Nicholas, in the reindeer-drawn sleigh, from Moore's poem (see Foreword, p. xvi).


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Historic Tales of Olden Times 1833


 Transcription
Historic Tales of Olden Times 1833


NOTES:
Just punctuation changes from previous Watson publication.


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

Watson, John F. Historic Tales of Olden Time, concerning the Early Settlement and Progress of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (pp.156-157). Philadelphia, E. Littell and Thomas Holden, 1833.

This is essentially a reprint of Watson's notes and 24-line abridgement as published in his Annals of Philadelphia (1830).


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The New-York Book of Poetry 1837


 Transcription
The New-York Book of Poetry 1837 and 1840


NOTES:

This is the first time Dunder changes to Donder, AND Blixem changes to Blixen!!

Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

Hoffman, C. The New-York Book of Poetry (pp.217-218). New-York, George Dearborn, 1837. The first publication of the poem identifying Clement C. Moore as its author is in this anthology, edited by the literary editor and critic, Charles Fenno Hoffmann (1806-1884). This appearance of the poem inspired Moore's friend, and artist, Robert W. Weir, to paint his famous portrait of St. Nicholas, and reproduced here as the Frontispiece.

The copy exhibited once belonged to J.D. Ogden, husband of Clement Moore's daughter Margaret, and later, also, of daughter Mary, and bears fly-leaf annotations by him.

A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS
BY CLEMENT C. MOORE

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;


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Bryant's Selections from the American Poets 1840


 Transcription
Bryant's Selections from the American Poets 1840


NOTES:
removing dashes; removal of Henry's interior exclamation points in dash away; first change of dry leaves to leaves that; removal of dashes; toys flung changed from passive to active voice; commas off phrases; Line 53 becomes sprang from sprung; but it's using the 1823 version of the contractions


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

Bryant, W. C. Selection's from the American Poets. (pp.285-286). New York, Harper & Brothers, 1840.

The inclusion of this poem by William Cullen Bryant in a selected anthology of American poems of literary merit gave it hitherto unattained stature.


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New-York Mirror 1841


 Poem and Transcription
New-York Mirror 1841


NOTES:
This is the Christmas poem minimally modified for New-Years.

Seems based off Bryant's Selections, but is additionally removing contractions; maintains Donder and Blixen.


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

The New-York Mirror: a weekly gazette of literature and the fine arts. Vol. 19, no. 1, p. 7, col. 2 [of3]. Saturday, January 2, 1841.

The publication of the poem, in full, on page 7, untitled but credited to C.C. Moore, is supplemental to the explanation of the woodcut on page 1 (crudely colored in the Haight copy, probably by a child) "designed by Mr. Ingrham and beautifully engraved on wood by Mr. [R.] Roberts, a young artist of much promise..." The opening article St. Nicholas, on his New Year's Eve Excursion, by Daniel Fanshaw (signed "D.F.") reports that it was intended to give "...a Steel Plate engraving of Weir's celebrated painting of St. Nicholas, but we were disappointed by the artist,..." The ensuing 8-column account of the St. Nicholas legend was extracted from Washington Irving's Knickherbocker's History of New York.

Charles C. Ingham (1796-1863), Irish-born portrait painter, was one of the leading artists of his day. Nothing is known of R. Roberts.


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The Rover 1843


 Poem and Transcription
The Rover 1843


NOTES:
More changes than most of the versions, for example, Line 6 changed "through their heads" to "o'er their heads." Divides into three verses; removing comma phrases, adds some -'s between words, takes some out

Uses the NY Mirror version of Line 21 and 22, except "Donder and Blixen" becomes "Donder and Nixen."


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

The Rover: A Weekly Magazine of Tales, Poetry, and Engravings, Vol. 2, no. 14, p. 210. Dec. 1843. Edited by Seba Smith.


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Moore's Poems 1844


 Poem and Transcription
Moore's Poems 1844


NOTES:
This is a fascinating mix and match. He's using the Line 21, 22 from the Troy broadsheet exactly, except that he's using Bryant's Selections change to Donder from Dunder. He makes a completely new change by changing Blixen to Blitzen.

Another mix and match is that he picks up "dry leaves before" from the Troy broadsheet, and combines it with Bryant's Selections change to "leaves that before" and creates "dry leaves that before."

So he had to know both versions!


Lawrence's Exhibition Catalogue, 1964.

Poems, C. C. Moore, LL. D., New York, Bartlett & Welford, 1844.

A Visit from St. Nicholas appears on pp. 124-127. The Poems was published for members of the Moore family, and the Preface is addressed to "My Dear Children:" Presumably it was published in limited edition, and today it is a rare work.

The Haight copy is inscribed by C. C. Moore: "Mr. Crosby, with respects of the author. Apr. 1851."

In this volume of 37 poems by Moore, the punctuation of "A Visit" is changed somewhat from that of earlier versions (see no. 1) and may be taken to be the author's preference.


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Fun Activities for Christmas
  65 TV Xmas Music Videos
  Antique Illustrations to musical NBC Recitation
  CBS Good Morning America, 2000
  Comic Book Poetry with antique postcards
  The Poem's Story in Anapest
  Antique Illustrated Editions
   Antique Santa Postcards
And after the fun, fall asleep to Clement Moore's Poetry
        
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