England Santa
Scholars call it for Henry


Soft Cover from Amazon
Kindle Edition
Sample Pages
Poet You Always Loved
Kindle Edition
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Thrice Happy
Soft Cover from Amazon
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Mac's cover
Soft Cover from Publisher
Soft Cover from Amazon

Mac Jackson
Jill Farringdon
Tristram Potter Coffin
Don Foster
Ian Lancashire
Henry MacCracken

MacDonald P. Jackson

December 17, 2013

During my forty years as a tenured staff-member of the University of Auckland's English Department I taught a very wide range of courses (anything from Beowulf to Beckett and beyond), but my publications have mostly been on Shakespeare and his contemporaries and on New Zealand literature, with a sideline on nineteenth-century poetry.

In Shakespeare's time playwrights often collaborated on the writing of scripts, and many plays were published anonymously or under the wrong name. So a lot of my research has been devoted to determining "who wrote what when". It used to be thought that Shakespeare, like God, performed his acts of creation alone. But over the last few decades it has become clear that, like others involved in the early modern entertainment industry, Shakespeare wrote several of his plays jointly with other dramatists. And it now seems probable that, early in his career, he contributed to at least two plays published without any author's name on the title page.

It was because of my interest in problems of authorship connected with Shakespeare and his great contemporary Thomas Middleton, in particular, that I read Don Foster's book Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous (New York, 2000). I had met him and knew his work as a Shakespeare scholar. He gained deserved celebrity for discovering stylistic quirks and preferences that identified the author of the anonymously published political novel Primary Colors (1996) as Joe Klein. But he had also argued that the "W.S." who wrote a poem called "A Funeral Elegy" was William Shakespeare. I had disagreed with him over that attribution, but enjoyed his new book and found the chapter on "The Night Before Christmas" not only stylishly written but persuasive. It made a case for concluding that the true author of this poem, among the best-known ever written by an American, was not Clement Clarke Moore, as generally believed, but Henry Livingston. I soon discovered that Moore's champions had plenty to say in reply. But they seemed to me not to have satisfactorily answered Don's most telling points.

Here was the kind of literary whodunit that lures me into trying to be the Sherlock Holmes who solves it. I checked out all the arguments on either side of the debate. I read Moore's Poems (1844) and the poems by Livingston made available on Mary Van Deusen's splendid website. Livingston's poetic personality immediately appealed. His moving "God Is Love" sums him up: he was full of love for everything and everybody in the world around him. I admired his warmth, empathy, bonhomie, eye for detail, and good-hearted wit. There was an endearing delicacy about the poems on the death of a young niece's pet wren (in the tradition of Catullus' on the death of Lesbia's sparrow, a poem that he refers to in one of his own) and of the little dog Belle. He could enter into a child's world. He relished the essential being of all living creatures. In one of his rebus puzzle-poems he refers to the eighteenth-century novelist Lawrence Sterne, the author of Tristram Shandy, as

"The author of Shandy, all laughter and glee Whose pencil from gall was forever kept free."
He himself was not ALL laughter and glee - his epitaphs and elegies are heartfelt, and his accounts of the year's events in his New Year addresses are realistic - but as a poet he is remarkably free from "gall."

Nobody could say the same about Clement Moore's verse, which, in contrast, is that of a satirist and moralizer. And whereas Livingston's poems teem with detailed concrete references to individual persons, animals, birds, insects, and things, Moore's tend towards the abstract and generalized. Livingston's verse shows many signs of the lively, whimsical fancy, and the narrative skill that could create "The Night Before Christmas." Moore's, at least in Poems (1844), does not. Livingston knows how to shape a poem into "beginning, middle, and end", whereas Moore is inclined to just meander on. I could find no evidence in Moore's verse, even his manuscript pieces for his children, of the imaginative zest of "The Night Before Christmas."

However, it is not unknown for writers to surpass themselves and achieve an uncharacteristic one-off hit, and questions of authorship cannot be settled by mere impressions. It is necessary to devise objective tests. I contacted Mary, and she and Paul and their friend Lyn, with their exceptional IT expertise, provided a wealth of data to be explored and lots of clues to be pursued. Every test, so far applied, associates "The Night Before Christmas" much more closely with Livingston's verse than with Moore's. Writing up the results takes time, but when they are published I hope other attribution scholars will try their own different approaches to the issue. It will surprise me if all reliable kinds of testing do not reach the same conclusions.


Mac Jackson is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Auckland. HNe is a Fellow of the New Zealand Academy of the Humanities, and Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. His areas of expertise include English Renaissance drama, specializing in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and authorship attribution.

Jill Farringdon

January 17, 2001

Dear Mary S. Van Deusen,

I am writing with reference to the attribution by Prof. Donald Foster of the anonymous poem TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, which you and your family always believed to have been written by your 5th great-grandfather, Major Henry Livingston.

I am the principal author of a book describing and illustrating a scentific method, called cusum analysis, which is able to attribute authorship: ANALYSING FOR AUTHORSHIP (University of Wales Press, 1996). A simple introduction to the method is given on our web site

Your problem regarding the anonymous poem TWAS THE NIGHT was brought to my attention by someone with whom I am in e-mail correspondence in California, Martha Vogeler, at Fullerton University; and I decided to subject the texts in THE NEW YORK TIMES (and in Foster's book), to my tests.

You will be pleased to know that the results showed that

  1. the anonymous poem had been written by a single author

  2. The poem was clearly distinguishable from the utterance of Moore

  3. The poem was INDISTINGUISHABLE from the utterance of Major Livingston

This supports the research Professor Foster has carried out using traditional methods of seeking to attribute authorship. Valuable as such methods have always been, the conclusions remain open to dispute. Therefore, the evidence of a scientifically objective method like cusum analysis is strong corroboration. (The method has passed many blind tests, and been used on behalf of literary academics both here and in the U.S. to identify authorship in literary disputes).

With all good wishes,

Jill Farringdon

Jill Farringdon won The Calvin and Rose Hoffman Marlowe Memorial Prize for 1997 for her essay illustrated by cusum analysis on "Attributing Shakespeare and Marlowe".

Analysing for Authorship: A Guide to the Cusum Technique

Analysing for Authorship: A Guide to the Cusum Technique by Jill M. Farringdon, with contributions by A.Q. Morton, M.G. Farringdon, and M.D. Baker. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996, xii +324pp.

Forensic Semiotics
by Warren Buckland

In the following pages I shall review recent developments in Stylometry, a scientific investigation, based on statistical methods, that quantifies language style. By reviewing Jill Farringdon's Analysing for Authorship, a remarkable book in applied stylometry, we shall discover that stylometry does not analyse language style for aesthetic reasons. Instead, it has many practical applications -- not least to bring the scientific procedures of systematisation and formalisation to the traditional and long-standing issue of attributing authorship to an anonymous or pseudonymous text. Authorship attribution is a pressing matter not only in New Testament and literary scholarship (celebrated cases being the disputed authorship of the Pauline Epistles, the Junius Letters and, more recently, the authorship of the novel Primary Colors), but in the legal context as well (for demonstrating whether the defendant wrote his or her confession, or whether it was 'coauthored' with the police, for example). Here, the scientific status of stylometry is crucial, since its results must stand up in a court of law -- which has resulted in the formation of the discipline called 'forensic stylometry'. Moreover, Jill Farringdon discusses other practical functions for a stylometric study of authorship, including: the identification of an anonymous translator of a text, to test whether another author has edited a text, to analyse a writer's style over time and in different genres (e.g. the scholarly essay and the novel), plagiarism, and to determine whether the method works on the utterances of non-native speakers of a language. In his contribution to the book, M.D.Baker investigates whether the writer's social and educational background influences the results of a stylometric analysis. Finally, another practical application -- one Farringdon does not mention -- is that academics can use stylometry to determine the authorship of anonymous readers' reports!

Stylometry employs the procedures of descriptive statistics to quantify -- or systematise and formalise -- the irreducible invariant traits from the data under analysis. From this quantified data, stylometry crucially moves into the realm of inferential statistics by making predictions and testing hypotheses -- not least those concerning who is the author of an anonymous text. ...

Tristram Potter Coffin, 27 Oct 2000

Dear Dr. Foster,

I was interested in the remarks your new book got in yesterday's New York Times, especially in that they centered about Henry Livingston and Clement Moore. I agree with your ideas wholeheartedly, and wonder if you have read my comments (nowhere near as well researched as yours) on pp. 87f. in my The Book of Christmas Folkmore, Seabury, NYC, 1973. To those of us who have bothered with the topic, there is little doubt Livingston wrote "Moore's poem" - or at least gave Moore a work to touch up.
[Actually, it was Tuttle, the publisher of the Troy Sentinel, who touched up the poem in 1830. Moore published off Tuttle's version.]

But congratulations on your new book and the publicity it has gotten.


Tristram Potter Coffin,
Emeritus Professor, Folklore & English
University of Pennsylvania

Some examples of the research underlying Don's chapter (11 Aug 1999 - 10 Jan 2000)
Don Foster, 10 Jan 2000


--We seem to be on the same wavelength: I re-read the Helen Reynolds article just yesterday, together with a 1944 article on the Carrier's address in PoK papers. I will visit the Adriance this week if possible to look for the 1819 carrier's address, together with others. I'd be very happy if it could be proved that HL wrote New Year's addresses for the 1786, '87, and '88 Pok J (George and Dick, pts 1-3), the 1803 address, the 1819 address, and perhaps each one in between; but I can't argue both ends toward the middle. First it must be proved (or disproved) that HL wrote "A Visit."

--Do you have a complete record of which issues of which PoK papers you have not seen?

--Do you have a complete record of which issues of PoK papers are thought no longer to be extant?

--Have you gotten any further in your investigation of the Sacket/Sackett family? Any chance that a Sackett maid could have been governess to the Livingston children? (on the whole, doubtful, and probably impossible to prove). More important and probably easier to investigate is the question of whether Mr. and Mrs. D. Sackett are related to Sally Welles. There is no room for speculation on that one.

--Not important, but is there a family connection to Paul Whitehead, author of Apollo and Daphne (1777)? HL records a song from A&D in his music book.

--I still don't have a text of Moore's 1862 explanation re: the turkey and the fat Dutchman.

--I am not confident that the "Winter Song" is by Henry. But things are going well on all other fronts.

--Do you have dates yet for the birth/baptism, year place of death for HL's children? My information is not entirely consistent. I'll check out your website later today. Gotta run.


Hi Mary,

A few observations and questions, now that I'm done with the job candidate...

--your 1823 Sentinel text is showing some overlap, with repetition of lines 6-14

--did the editorial note-- "We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description...Troy Sent'l" --appear in the 1823 text or not till the 1830 text? And do you have the text of the ed. note posted to the website? the print on the jpg is too small for my old eyes to read with confidence.

--question: HL's had a Scots granddaddy and called himself Scottish. What was the ethnic background of the other grandparents?

--HL ("R") disclaims the anecdote about the bear and the cubs as nothing of his own; it was added to the drawing by the editors, to his chagrin.

--the panther (NYM): not the object of dread to the hunger [sic] It's "hunter"

vernal, by the way, was a late-18th C cliche. Just in Lit Online I find five poets with "vernal clouds" (inc. Moore), 27 with "vernal skies." Moore was not very original. "favonian" was another cliche, but the phrase, "soft favonian breath" (Moore, 1844) appears also in FDBHemans (1839)

Mary, I'm running out of time, haven't proofread any of what follows below:

do you know the source and date for this one? (and where have I seen it before? somewhere!! but I can't remember) VERSES. To ARABELLA (by R) BLOOMING as the youthful May,

--have you had a chance yet to look at other poems in the "R" bibliog that I sent you? I haven't.

The Weekly Magazine
March 16, 1795
AS sound as a nut, o'er the plain

A parody of this poem appears in the PoK Journal, issue of Feb. [illeg] 1820, which is one that I copied when I first looked at microfilm copies of the PoK Journal. But the 1820 PoK J text of the parody is headed: "Parody on the Sonnet which appeared in the Herald of the 16th Instant"-- which means that the original must have been published in 1795, again in the Herald in 1820. This seems worth looking into. What are the reasons that you? WSThomas? ascribed it to HL?

PoJ text:
 AS sound as a nut, o'er the plain
    I of late whistled, chock full of glee;
A stranger to sorrow and pain,
    As happy, as happy could be.

As plump as a partridge I grew,
     My heart being lighter than cork;
My slumbers were calmer than dew!
    My body was fatter than pork.

Thus happy I hop'd I should pass,
    Sleek as grease down the current of time;
But pleasures are brittle as glass,
    Although as a fiddle, they're fine. 	[sic, error in your text]

*My office*, the pride of the vale,
   Like a top years ago, pleased me well,
With envy the seekers were pale--
  With anger stood waiting my knell.

It warmed like a basket of chips--
  *It loomed* like *a basket of vouchers*
It taasted as sweet as molasses, or lips,
  And brightened my eyes without couchers.

Enjoying--I dwelt on each charm,
  My peace that would trouble so soon,
And thought not of danger nor harm,
  Any more than a man in the moon.

But now to my sorrow I find,
     My soft head has played me a trick;
*I've guess wrong*, and am quite far behind,
    Tho' of froth I'm full as a tic.

I sought his affections to win,
     In hopes of obtaining relief,
Till I like a hatchet grew thin,
    And she like a haddock grew deaf.

I late was as fat as a doe,
    And *playful and spry* as a cat;
But now I am dull as a hoe,
     And lean and as weak as a rat.

 Unless the unpitying fates
     Shall raise my *bucktail by nicking,*,
As certain of death or as rates,
    I'm gone, maugre all other *pricking*.
+The Magnus Apollo
I hadn't looked at the above xerox since I made it back when I first looked
into these matters.  I copied two other poems, one of which was the sante
claus poem (copied for that reason; not by HL), and one other that I
thought *might* be HL's, beginning "Twas on a May morn's earliest dawn,....
(PoK Journal, 13 Nov. 1822).  Guess what?  It's HL's!  In the 1820s HL set
to verse a number of Aesop's fables, two of which, plus Midas, are with the
papers Steve Thomas gave me and that I'm sending to you--Steve doesn't have
this one beginning "Twas on a May morn's," but they're peas from the same
pod.  I think we'll have to go back to those pok journals and look for
more.  HL may have kept contributing to the day he died.  This is good
news--it may give us more to work with.  I don't have time right now to
type out the fable.
do you know the date for this one?
SONG -- Tune, German Spa
New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository
Shrew'd remarkers often say
do you know the date for this one?
 For the New-York Weekly Museum
SEE, bursting from the northern skies,

I don't know James Beattie (1735-1803),  *Elements of moral science*--does
the note mean it's not by R?  if you don't know, I'll check it out here at
VC, we've got a facsimilar reprint:,

LIBERTY DEFINED [From the 2d vol. of Elements of Moral Science, by Dr.

2d question:  are there words left off the last sentence?

[last 2 sentences:]  ... and yet if such a bill were afterwards ratified by
the Lords, and assented to by the King, it would be a law. -- Surely, if we
are a free people, liberty must

****as good as gold:****

On the late Mr. Gilbert Cortlandt, deceased  (poem)






Wasn't able to active buttons at
http://www.tiac.net/users/ime/famtree/xmas/maybehenrys.htm, but I presume
they are same items as listed below?

Wasn't able to active buttons at
Peter pindar's poems omitted here; I think they can be dropped from the
Website at a convenient moment
I see no reason to consider "strephon" as an HL pseudonym.  Granted, he
uses it in a poem but Strephon is a conventional poetic sobriquet.  I
haven't checked the OTA but I get more than a 1000 hits for Strephon in
Lit. Online

Poetry (290 entries, 742 hits)
Drama (61 entries, 298 hits)
Prose (14 entries, 116 hits)
These two R poems will have to be noted in an edition of HL's verse but the
internal evidence does not point toward HL:


            The Companion - July 20, 1805

            Left on the world's bleak waste forlorn,
            In sin conceiv'd, in sorrow born,
            No father's help, no mother's care
            Shield his soft infancy with pray'r;
            No guide the devious maze to tread,
            Around no friendly shelter spread,
            Alone amidst surrounding strife,
            And naked to the storms of life;
            Silent he weeps, with asking eyes,
            And, nature failing, sinks and dies.

            The Companion - July 27, 1805

            Power of these awful regions hail!
                For sure some mighty genius roves
            With step unheard, or loves to sail
                Unseen along these clifts and groves.

            O'er the wild mountain's stormy waste,
            The shatter'd crag's impending breast,
                And rocks by mortal feet untrod:
            Deep in the murmuring night of woods,
            Or 'mid the headlong roar of floods,
                More bright I view the present God.

            More bright than if in glittering state,
            O'ercanopied with gold, he sat,
                The pride of Phidian art confess'd--
            Hail! power sublime, thy vot'ry shield,
            O listen to my lay, and yield
                A young but weary wanderer rest.

            But if from rest and silence torn,
                And these lov'd scenes -- I roam afar,
            By fate's returning surge down born,
                To toss in care's tumultuous war--

            Grant me secure from toil and strife
            And all the vain alarms of life
                And all the rabble's feverish rage,
            Remote in some secure retreat,
            At least to pass in freedom sweet,
                The solitude of age.
Here are more poems for which I have missed the HL connection.  Not worth
considering unless there's something you've spotted something that I've
The Littleness of Human Kind

            Poughkeepsie Journal
            Oct 13, 1789 The Littleness of Human Kind
            Know man! THat GOd has given the understanding to guide thy
behaviour, and not
            to penetrate into the essence of things which he has created.

            MAN measures earth; the air he weighs;
            The spacious sky above surveys;
                The planetary sphere

            Political Barometer
            May 22, 1804
            THE MONTH OF MAY.
            Jovis omnia plena. -- Virgil.

            BRIGHT in verdure, gaily smiling,
                MAY trips lightly o'er the plain,

            Poughkeepsie Journal
            April 17, 1793
              MR. POWER,
            By giving the following a place in your Journal, you will
oblige A Customer.
            ODE TO LEARNING.

            O Parent of each pleasing hour!
            Benign, thy copious blessings pour;
The Accidental King of Day

            Weekly Museum, November 1, 1794
            The Accidental King of Day

            For the WEEKLY MUSEUM. I, who erst sung in melancholy mood
            The poor man's plaining woe, now snugly vault
GOD Save the Rights of Man!

            Poughkeepsie Journal
            July 10, 1793
            GOD Save the Rights of Man!


            The American Magazine - December 1787

            OH Celia, let the busy fly,
                Still hum its mazy round,
On the Death of a Child

            New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository
            THY Saviour calls, sweet babe arise,
            He calls you smiling to the skies;

            The Companion - December 15, 1804

            'Tis not scenes of festive pleasure,
                Splendid, equipage and dress,
            Hoarded heaps of glitt'ring treasure,

            The American Magazine - January, 1788
            Song: INVOCATION TO CUPID.

            LET Virtue soothe the hoary sage,
                Let wine the gay inspire;
            Me softer numbers now engage,

            Political Barometer
            Sep 14, 1802
            ELEGIAC ODE.

            WHEN the stroke of the woodman had ceas'd in the vale,
              And the sweet Philomela had finish'd her song;
            A sage child of sorrow repeated his tale,

            The Weekly Museum.

            THE Eastern Sun its orient beams disclose,
                And the bright morn hath chas'd the sembrous? night;
On Divine Love

            New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository
            GREAT as thou art, and far above the praise


Your "Susan and the Spider" poem is by Peter Pindar (1738-1819, "A PASTORAL SONG," from The Works of Peter Pindar (1816)]

Here (below) are ones that don't appear to me be bear much resemblance to HL's work, but I haven't read them closely--tell me if I'm missing something (rare words, turn of phrase, use of exclamation points, whatever

Carrier's Address to the NEW YEAR. (possible, given the 1803 address, but
the language isn't strikingly like HL's

                         Political Barometer
                         Jan 15, 1805
                         Carrier's Address to the NEW YEAR.
                         Dedicated to the Patrons of the
                         POLITICAL BAROMETER.

                         GOOD morning EIGHTEEN HUNDRED FIVE,

I don't see much evidence of HL's hand in these ones following. Let me know
if I've missed something interesting--


                         For the Weekly Magazine
                         March 9, 1795
                         THE CALM.

                         WHY have the winds forgot to blow?
                             Why thus deny their aid?
Response to "Political Wind-Storm".

                        Poughkeepsie Journal
                        Feb 22, 1797
                          For the Poughkeepsie Journal.
                        Response to "Political Wind-Storm".
A Serious Address to the Fair Sex.

                         Poughkeepsie Journal
                         March 13, 1793
                         A Serious Address to the Fair Sex.

                         BOAST not I ye nymphs, of youthful charms,
                         Of rosy cheeks, or snowy arms;
                         Of sparkling eyes or coral lips,
Song (Wood-nymphs)

                        Political Barometer
                        May 29, 1805

                        Ye wood-nymphs and dryads, blithe, buxom, and gay,
                        Who tend the soft verdure and blossoms of May,
"SICK of the world,"

                        Poughkeepsie Journal
                        July 31, 1790
                        "SICK of the world,"

                        SICK of the world, in prime of day;
                        Constantia took a serious fit--
(FAIR Adaline).

                         Political Barometer
                         Aug 24, 1802
                         (FAIR Adaline).

                         FAIR Adaline sigh'd on her brave warrior's breast,
                           When contest's loud din to the field call'd away.

                        Poughkeepsie Journal
                        Mar 4, 1795 A WISH.

                        WHILE sordid souls are importuning heav'n,
                        To grant them riches ne'er to mortal given;


                        Political Barometer
                        August 5, 1807
                          FOR THE BAROMETER.
                        AN EVENING WALK.

                            WHEN Sol deserts the verdant plain,
                        And bides his head behind the hill,


                        The Companion - 1804
                        THE LOVER.

                        When Cupid throws his fatal dart,
                        And the soft pain invades the heart,

                         Poughkeepsie Journal
                         May 8, 1793
                         The IRISH ANGLER.

                         AN Irishman angling one day in the Liffy,
                         Which runs down by Dublin great city so fine;
                             A smart show'r of rain falling, PAT in a jiffy,
                         Crept under the arch of a bridge with his line.
                             Why that's not the place to accomplish your wishes
                         Cries Dermot -- there devil a bite will you get!
                             Och boder! says PAT, don't you know that the
                         Will flock under here to keep out of the wet!
                         The New-York Weekly Magazine
                         June 19, 1802

                         WHEN the dawn, with touch of roses,
                             Doffs aside her shadowy veil,
                         Every folded plant discloses
                             Hoarded fragrance o'er the dale;
                         Frolic zephyr wanders, sipping
                             Virgin odours through each bower,
                         And the liquid perfumes, dripping
                             From the petals of each flower.
                         Oh! how sweet the gale to prove,
                         'Tis the BREATH of her I love!

                         When the noon-tide warmth diffusing
                             Scorching vapors in the air,
                         Faded herbs, their vigor losing,
                             Droop beneath the sultry glare;
                         Sol, with lambent glory streaming,
                             Pours from his meridian height,
                         Golden fires too vivid beaming--
                             Flame the heart and blind the sight.
                         Oh! that ray I dare not prove,
                         'Tis the EYES of her I love!

                         When soft Eden, coyly peeping,
                             Steals her unobstrusive reign,
                         Nature hangs dejected, weeping
                             Silv'ry sorrows o'er the plain;
                         Lightly through the pale horizon
                             Feather'd poets wing their way,
                         Hymning oft a wild benison,
                             Floated long in choral lay.
                         Oh! the bliss the sound to prove,
                         'Tis the VOICE of her I love!

                         When black night, her orgles keeping,
                             Shrouds in deepest gloom the skies,
                         Subtle slumber hovers, sleeping
                             Poppy'd spells in mortal eyes;
                         Then, bright fancy's films unfolding;
                             All her lucid hapois? display;

                         Visions then of minds beholding,
                             Ev'n of night create a day!
                         Oh! what joy that dream to prove,
                         'Tis the SMILE of her I love!

Don Foster, 6 Jan 2000


nothing in this note has been proofread, not even my first-line index below, etc.

some big help, if you could pull it off:

most important:
--6 March, 1856, Moore wrote out a copy of xmas for Oscar T. Keeler, esq. upon request. This copy of the poem has been lost, but the letter of transmittal still survives in the NYPL (is this the MS in Huntington?). I believe this letter is the one from which the went-to-town-to-buy a turkey story got started.

--genealogy or other id info for Mrs. Daniel Sackett = Daniel Sackett a merchant of NYC

--Must see sancteclaus poem troy budget 1815, ny spectator 1824, new mirror 1844

--MUST have accurate text and manner of attribution (anon, Moore, etc.) for "VISIT" IN
Troy sentinel text (23 December 1823)
Troy Budget text
Morning Courier NYC 1/1/29
NY Mirror and Rural Repository for 1836 and 1837 text of poem
Rural Repository 12 (1/9/36): 128 (Anon, "Christmas Times")
NY Mirror 15 (12/22/1837): 207--edited by Chas Fenno Hoffman, ed of NY Bk of poetry

Do you still have the Scanderbeg text? Somewhere (I think perhaps at the end, not at the front) is a letter from Moore to the reader, who either paraphrased the text from an earlier English narrative or else translated it from some continental source. I haven't looked into the details. One commentator, I've forgotten whom, taxes Moore for claiming more for his his own originality in the Scanderbeg text than he could rightly claim.

Would you possibly have a complete set of pages from the patterson biography? I borrowed it from Interlibrary loan and should have saved a photocopy but didn't.

Answer to the Rebus (by R) (illeg. something like The August destinies prove first eat ?? New York Mirror vol5, Jan? 23? 1833? n/hl, n/ccm

To Miss -- -- (by R) Sweet as spring? roses are The New York Mag and LIt Repos 2 (Sept 1791): 544? n/hl, n/ccm


All forms of beauty--earth and sea, and sky...
The Album [?illeg] and Ladies' Wkly Gazette I-K[illeg] - XVIII-5 [oct 4 1826? illeg]

A celebrated French sonnet
Soft silence ?hush'd the slumbring words...)
The Boston Weekly Mag July 9, 1803

A country town Evening party
([illeg. Heim?) social and pleasant, to meet in a room
New York Mirror, 14.8 July 2, 1836 n/hl, n/ccm

The dying year
farewell, farewll, thou dying year
Rural repository 8 (31 Dec 1831): 128 n/hl, n/ccm

I saw a female young and fair
Atkinson's casket 8 (Aug 1827): 319

Go--you may call it madness, folly?
New York Mirror 2 (Apr 16, 1825): 304 n/hl, n/ccm

the Mind Alone can change the mind
As Venus' foam in days of old...
Minerva 2 (Dec 20 1823): 296 n/hl, n/ccm

On the death of Mr. Isaac Story
What and memora?? and is?? thy lyre unstrung?
The Boston Weekly Mag 1 (Sat even. Aug 6, 1803): 168

Passaick Fall
Romantic spot! thy steeps with joy we climbed...
New York Mirror 3 (Dec 3, 182-- illeg.): 152 n/hl, n/ccm

Saddened are those deep, dark eyes
Godey's Lady's Book xxxi (Oct 1815? 1845?): 175

thompson's the man of your poet whose nose berd ara mile???)
The Boston Weekly Mag 1 (Jan 8, 1803): 47

Song--June, German Spa
Shrewd remarkers often say
The New York Mag and Literary Repost. 2 (march 1781): 173 HL/mvd

Passions or a diomand? high?
I have heard? and in foreign lands...)
ill leg tilt, possible the Portfolio or the P--- Examiner 4 (Sept 1817): 250-52. n/hl, n/ccm

On Reading aulimnus?? denominaation? on the names of teimpe? ellieg
Haim? sourged? magnamned vale..."
the Portfolio or the Portl? Examiner? 2 (Sept. 1816): 262, 267 n/hl, n/ccm

A Farewell to his Muse?
Pomp, Muse I'm in ca iette mood
Portfolio illeg (Dec? 9 1805): illeg. possibly 70 or 78 n/hl, n/ccm

Ode to? refrom?
Original poetry?
Back o'er minivear's multitudionous waves?
The Portfolio 3 (445-446) May 1817

Passions of a distracted woman
Sitting unpithend? do I love thee...
The Portfolio IV? (sep 1817): 252-3 n/hl, n/ccm

To her who can understand them, these linds are addressed
Twas heavenly sweet (but het twas so fleeting)
Ladies Literary Cabinet 2 (Aug 1820): 111 n/hl, n/ccm

To Mariam??
Dost thou remember the blooming rose
Ladies Literary Cabinet 2 (July 1820): 63

To Maria? on hearing her sing
So bright thine eyes, so kind thy heart
The Olio? V. 1, p. 302, Oct. 16, 1813 n/hl, n/ccm

To Maria on her Pestpretion? to health
>From the rude land of pain and woe...
Portfolio (illeg 4?[ June 1819): 632-3

To Matilda
Matilda! I have thought of you
Ladies Litgerary Cabinet 2 (June 1820): 47

To Mary
this is the time for all to send
New York Mirror III? (Dec? 31, 1825): 104? 184?

To Miss M.P.H. on hearing she was about to change? her name?
Are you then caught, my gentle friend...
Ladies Literary Cabinet 2 (Aug 1820): 112

A Vision
I had a pleasing vision and it seemed
New York Mirror Nov 17? 19? 1825): page illeg. n-hl, h-ccm

Amid the varying scenes of life
Weekly Visitor and Ladies Museum 1 (Dec 13, 1817): 108

I'm wayyyy late and won't have time to maile the typescript today but here's a first-line index to the music book:

music book:first lines

Verses of the medeine? 1st stanza missing
Fair Hebe I left with a cautious design
The pride of all nature is sweet Willy
This cold flinty heart it is you who have warmed
Lovely nymph assuage my anguish
Dans votre lit my Fanny say
Love's a dream of mighty treasure
Vital spark of heavenly flame
Ye tribes of Adam join (plust other geographical poems, some or all attrib.
to "Dr. Watts, C.M. (e.g., Psalm 89, Thy words, ye raging wind controul,...)
C.M. poss. for "Com.M.
When sable night each drooping plant restoring
Twas in that season of the year
Guardian angels now protect me
How oft Louisa thou hast said
Tho the fate of battle on to moscow wait
The sun from the east tips the mountains with gold
Now's the time for mirth and glee
Sweet Poll of Plymouth was my dear
Amo amas, I love a lass as a cedar tall and slender
Dwight: Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise
Forever fortune wilt thow prove / An unrelenting foe to love
When the trees are all bare not a leaf to be seen
Tarry woo, and Tarry woo, Tarry woo is ill to spin
Oh could the various force of soul
Forbear my friend forbear and ask no more
Free from the bustle, care, and strife,
haste, Haste to the wedding
My Jackey is the blithest lad
Young Jemmie loved me well and asked me for his bride
When the fierce north wind with his airy forces
Are you sure the news is true and are you sure he's weel
Fare-well ye green fields and sweet groves
When forced from dear Hebe to go
No nymph that trips the verdant plains
Ye fair married dames who so often deplore (3/6/1802 in Weekly Museum
As Daphne sat beneath a shade
Ianthe the lovely, the joy of her swain,
A Dawn of Hope my soul revives
The Sun was sleeping in the main
As down on Banna's banks I stray'd
Cast my Love thine eyes around
I've kissed and I've prattled with fifty find maids
Oh Sawney, why leavest thou thy Nelly to mourn
Why heaves mu fond bosom ah! what can it mean
How much superior hunting
The silver moons enamoured beam
Long young Jocky toy'd and sported
Let Heroes boast of deeds of arms, and tell of this and that
In her the graces all comine
When late I wandered o'er the plain
No longer let whimsical songers compare
Yet the unkind one damps my joy
Ye fair, possessed of every charm
Great is your power and greater yet
When Britain first at heaven's command
How imperfect is expression
The moon had climbed the highest hill
The world my dear Myra is full of deceit
Farewell to Locabor and farewell my jane (by Allan Ramsay)
One time nought with claret drinking
He comes he comes the hero comes
Beauxing, belling, dancing, drinking,
I laid poor Robin in the grave as decent as I could
The summer it was similing all nature round was gay
While beaux to please the ladies write
In infancy, our hopes and fears
Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen
Come now all ye social powers
My fond shepherds of late, were so blest
When storms and clouds obscure the sky
At the close of the day when the hamlet is still
The sun sets in night and the stars shun the day
>From the man that I love though my heart I disguise
The sun was sleeping in the main
Say might love and teach my song
The dusky night rides down the sky
Come all ye doleful dismal cares
Says Plato why should man be vain
The echoing horn calls the sportsman abroad
Young Corydon aminta loved
To usher in the May
Oh, I dream
When Euorope's at peace and all England contented
In a mouldering cave where the wretchd retreat (by Th Paine, parodied by HL
in PoK Advertiser 5/30/1787, and later in Nat'l Song book, 1844
Contented all day I could sit by your side,
The spring with smiling face is seen
She comes, my goddes comes
When maids live to thirty yet never repented
Smile, smile, Britania, smile, thy genius comes again
While dauntless they advance
When Sawney first did woo me
The pride of all nature was sweet Willy
What beauties does flora disclose, how sweetly smiles she upon Tweed
Never till now I knew lover's smart
The fragrant lily of the vale so elegantly fair
A taylor I once was as blithe as e'er need be,
Select Airs of the Jovial Crew or Merry Beggar's
Today let us never be slaves
A SONG IN THE DUENNA: O had my love ne'er smil'd on me

(I don't find next in Jovial Crew:)
HAD I A HEART: Had I a heart for falsehood framed...


(I don't find next in Jovial Crew:)


(I don't find next in Jovial Crew:)
The fields were green, the hills were gray

Hither dear husband turn
To ease his heart and own his flame
When the rosy morn appearing

Don Foster, 24 Aug 1999


The bibliography is coming along nicely. Excellent work!

As for an Xmas bibliography, I suspect that someone has already compiled a checklist of early editions and MSS copies but I haven't had time to hunt. If something of interest turns up on my end I'll let you know. (I'll be able to spend very little on this project during the next couple of weeks.)

Carry on!


Don Foster, 18 Aug 1999


When will you be in Po'keepsie? I'll be in my office this morning, again this afternoon, but away from 10:45-noon.

>The poem on the death of Catharine Livingston Breese was published in the >Poughkeepsie Journal of those days on her death.
Do you have the date of pub.? If so, I can copy it for you.

re: "Unidentified Dutchess County article" (could this be Rev. George B. Kinkead, "Gilbert Livingston and Some of His Descendants" NY Genealogical and Biographical Record vol. 84-8 (1953-7): pp. [?-?]. Vassar doesn't have the volume, but it should be available elsewhere. I have made an extra copy of the MacCracken article and will mail it to you if we miss connections today.

>This manuscript music book tells something of its maker....
What ms book is being discussed here?


Don Foster, 16 Aug 1999

in fact, there are some other authors in the collection for short pieces.... Yes, that's one of the first things I noticed: The volume *Poems* of C.C.More does, in fact,include poems that are not by C.C. Moore (though correctly attributed).

>children of Major Livingston and Jane Patterson are:
13. v. DR. CHARLES PATTERSON3 LIVINGSTON, b. of Granger County Ohio.
14. vi. ELIZA D. LIVINGSTON, b. Abt. 1772; d. 1837, Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.

sic; Eliza and perhaps Charles must be children by Sarah Welles, don't you think?

The NY Bk of Poetry has two poems by William L.

Father of Light! exhaustless course of good!..../
...Thy omnipresence fills imensity. (pp. 102-3)

Oft on the vilest riches are bestow'd.../
...Regard him now--and lo! he is no more (pp. 220-1)


If you come to PoK today, give me a call

What is "the 1862 copy"? My understanding was that the mss copies were done in 1856, at least one of which was accompanied by a cover letter in Moore's hand in which he comments on the poem.

Is this written in Moore's own hand? "Clement C. Moore, 1862, March 13th, originally written many years ago." (If the wording is Moores, I find the passive interesting--hardly a vigorous assertion of authorship) What's your bibliographic ref. for the 1862 copy?

One of your emails was headed "preface to 1844 Poems" but the preface was not included. Do you have a copy of the text yet?

I tried last week to find an accurate text of the 1821 "Santeclaus" poem in the Children's Friend series. The CT Historical Society librarian said that she'd copy it out and send it to me. There was also a poem about "Sancte Claus" in the Troy Budget in 1815, the text of which I do not have.



I'm especially interested in the textual transmission, which can be traced directly through specific info (e.g., editors will reprint a poem as "From the Troy Sentinel") or through substantive variants. I'm especially interested in the Blixen/Blitzen and Donder/Donner variants. There's probably a detailed bibliography somewhere of early reprints of Xmas, but I haven't had time to look. If you happen to find such a bilbiography, let me know.


Anne Lyon Haight Collection of "Twas The Night Before Christmas"

In 1982, Anne Lyon Haight's collection of more than 300 editions of "A Visit from St. Nicholas", (also known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") was donated to Carnegie Mellon in her memory. She began her collection in the 1930s. The Haight collection contains all of the known publications of the poem in its first fifty years of existence, lacking only an original copy of its very first publication (in the Troy Sentinel ) which is represented by a photocopy. The collection was exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York in 1962.

I may have been premature in saying that Xmas didn't appear in a PoK paper. HL published a few items in The Poughkeepsie Political Barometer, a paper for which the Adriance Lib (PoK) has a full collection except for 6/3/1806, an issue that is owned by the Am. Antiquarian Soc. and by Harvard--a full set, and if Xmas was published there, I think it would have been noticed by now.

The Political Barometer was succeeded by the Republican Herald, and here the coverage is more spotty. If Xmas appeared in a PoK paper before 1823, I think this has to be the place. I have supplied info. below (warning: the tab settings may be goofed up in transmission):

ADRIANCE has most issues of the Republican Herald for the period 8/28/1811-12/15/1819; only one issue from 1820 (12/20/1820), and none from 1821-23 (after which the paper ceased publication). From 9/16 - 12/9 1812 the R.H. was called "The Northern Politician":

MISSING FROM ADRIANCE HOLDINGS, with other sources for some missing issues: 1813 2/10 - 6/02 Am Antiq Soc has 3/3/13;
Bost Pub Lib has 4/27/13;
Daughters of 1812, James Lawrence Chapter, Haddonfield NJ, have 5/19, 5/26, 9/15
1813 6/16 - 7/21
1813 8/04 - 8/11
Am Antiq Soc has 8/04/13 1813 9/01, 9/8, 9/15 1813 10/06
Am Antiq Soc has 10/06/13 1817 7/16- dec 1818 jan - 12/31 1819 1/20, 1/27, 2/17, 2/24, 3/17, 4/14, 4/21, 4/28, 5/12, 5/19, 5/26, 6/02, 6/09, 6/16, 7/14, 7/21, 7/28, 8/04, 8/11, 8/18, 9/08, 9/29, 10/13
Western Reserve Hist. Soc. has 10/13/19 10/20, 10/27, 12/22, 12/29 1820 all except 12/20 1821 all 1822 all 1823 all

The missing issues are possibly available from one or more of the following:


no other issues unless added in last 20 years:

>Sorry, I'm so busy trying to get in all the details, I miss the generality. Don't apologize--and don't hesitate to correct my mistakes as work proceeds.

If and when you can get an accurate genealogy with birth or christening dates for all of Henry's children, that would be great. One problem that interests me is whether Livingston might not also be credited with "A New Year's Present, to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve (in the Children's Friend series, pub. by Gilley, 1821). (Unverified text: "Old Santerclaus with much delight / His reindeer drives the frosty night / O'er chimney tops and track of snow, / To bring his yearly gifts to you....") The specificity of the title interests me, esp. since the Major had two groups of children, "the big ones" and "the little ones," so to speak. I want to learn if his children by Patterson spanned seven years, on the outside chance that the title could have referred originally to the Major's own children, and not to all children of the world ages 5-12. But we'll need to have birth or christening dates for the Major's children (probably available from a Livingston family genealogy)

Don Foster, 14 Aug 1999


I have copied your notes

As I see it, here's what you're up against:

--The whole world, a few individuals excepted, believe that "A Visit" ("Xmas" hereafter) was written by Clement C. Moore.

--Book publishers will continue to publish Xmas "By Clement Clarke Moore" for generations to come unless public opinion turns clearly in favor of Henry Livingston.

--One person (you), who is willing and able to investigate once and for all whether or not the Major can mount a successful challenge to Moore.

--At least one other person (me), who is willing to help, insofar as the evidence points to the Major's authorship (and I'm *rooting* for him--I like the Major a lot better than I like Moore--but the case for the Major is still circumstantial, incomplete, and inconsistent [and at a few points, demonstrably inaccurate])

--In 1837 (*NY Bk of Poetry*) and 1838 (*Troy Budget*), when first credited with the poem, Moore did not deny his authorship. He may not have known about the *Budget* attribution, but he certainly knew about the book attribution.

--Moore eventually claimed the poem as his, in 1844 (*Poems*) and 1856 (letter accompanying the handwritten copies), and perhaps on other occasions.

--No document survives in which Livingston claims the poem.

--Some of the Livingston family recollections are demonstrably inaccurate. Most troublesome: Livingston's relatives are mistaken in their recollection that Xmas appeared in the PoK paper and that a copy was saved in the Livingston household. That's potentially damning testimony. Advocates of Moore's authorship will say: "The newspaper copy that the Major read to his family must have been the anonymous Troy Sentinel text; the family took the poem for his simply because it was he who read it to them."

--Most of Livingston's extant poems are 1787 or earlier. Most bear little structural or thematic resemblance to Xmas. A few bear a *striking* resemblance to Xmas, but the text and reference for the most strikingly similar poem has not yet been located. None of the extant poems in your possession has yet been documented (no library reference, no manuscript number) so there is no proof (yet) that even these poems are Major Livingston's work. (I don't doubt it, but we don't yet have correct documentation for a single poem by the Major--and we seem to be missing virtually all of the Major's most important poetry, i.e., verse later than 1800).

Here's what I will need before proceeding:

--Accurate citations for the Livingston poems already in your possession

--An exact, letter-for-letter, comma-for-comma transcription of all published texts of Xmas, 1823-1844, and of Moore's handwritten 1856 text and cover letter.

--A complete, accurate, and documented archive of writing by (1.) the Major and (2.) C.C.Moore (electronic form preferred)

--An accurate, letter-for-letter, comma-for-comma transcription of Moore's copies of Xmas and of his comments about Xmas--including the 1856 text and cover letter and the Introduction to the Poems. (I need to look for signs of inaccurate memory, equivocation, ambivalence, etc., in Moore's account of the poem's authorship. This includes an examination of Moore's handwritten texts for variants that might show him to be a copyist, not the original author.)

--Accurate citations for early, key statements by relatives of Moore and Livingston. Both sides seem to interject a lot of hearsay, special pleading, and faulty recollection. (The Del Re account "Sometime during 1823, ... the album" is transparent fiction--but the anecdotal evidence in favor of the Major doesn't count for much, either; not when it's set beside the express testimony of an all-too-pious churchman) --Text and date of the *Troy Budget* article where CCM was credited with Xmas. (It may be that the 1838 *Budget* report depends on the 1837 *New York Book of Poetry* text attribution. If it can be shown that the Troy Budget editor is merely copying his text and attribution from the 1837 book, it does not constitute an independent claim for Moore's authorship.)

Early NY newspapers are availble in two microfilm series, one or both of which are in the holdings of the NYPL and other major research libraries:
1. Early English Newspapers, 1704-1820
2. American Periodical Series, 1800-1850

Here's another possible scenario to be explored: The NY Book of Poetry includes several of Moore's poems, with a few non-Moore poems between, including one by William Livingston. It's *possible* that the Moore attribution for "A Visit" was a simple mistake; and that Moore decided to accept the unlooked-for blessing in 1844 after six years had passed without a whisper of protest.

--It is very important, IMO, to investigate whether or not the NY Bk of Poetry includes any attributional errors (most anthologies of the period include attributional mistakes); and if so, to identify them, to show that the attributions are unreliable.

--Also important: find first publication for the other Moore poems included in the *NY Bk of Poetry*

Page Title & attrib.
211 "To a Lady. / By Clement C. Moore.--1804" ("Thy dimpled...")
214 "Spring is Coming. / By James Nack." ("Spring is coming, spring is coming,...")
215 "From a Father to His Children ... Portrait Taken for Them. / By C.C. Moore" (This semblance of ....")
217 "The Mitchella." / By S. L. Mitchell." ("Sequestered safe beneath...")
217 "A Visit from S. Nicholas. / By Clement C. Moore" ("Twas the night before Christmas..."
219 "On Seeing a Beautiful Lady ... Fever." / By A. L. Blauvelt.--1805." (?Dark minister of many woes,...")
220 "The Gifts of Providence" / By William Livingston.--1747" (Oft on the vilest riches are bestow'd...")
221 "From a Husband to His Wife" / By C. C. Moore." ("The dreams of Hope...")
224 "Prophetic." / By Gulian VerPlanck" (Hail happy Britain,..."
225 "Lines / (Suggested by a Perusal of 'The Life of Chatterton') / By A. L. Blauvelt." ("And yet there are...")

When you get a chance, send along information concerning William Livingston and his poetry. He may be the William (1727-1790) who was youngest son to Philip (Manor line). I'm interested in how and where and from whom the editor of the *NY Bk of Poetry* acquired his texts. The best way to begin is to learn where the editor's other Moore poems first appeared (i.e., To a Lady, From a Father, The Gifts, From a Husband); and to learn whether the editor was indebted to the Troy Budget for his

It will be a job to check the 154 attributions (52 diff. poets) in the *NY Bk of Poetry*, but unless it can be shown that the anthology does indeed contain incorrect attributions, there is no reason for readers to doubt the attribution for Xmas. Most of the volume's attributions are, presumably, taken directly from the "newspapers and periodicals" that supplied the editor with his copytexts. But that cannot be the case with Xmas unless he got the attribution from the Troy Budget article. If the editor of the *NY Bk of Poetry* made mistakes in his attributions of other poems, it will be essential to highlight that evidence.

The missing New Yrs poem ascribed to the Major (the fragment of which I sent to you) is the best stylistic exemplum I've seen for giving Xmas to Livingston. If it turns out that it's lost or a forgery, then Moore's claim to Xmas may never be overturned. Good luck on finding the mss.

These may be the most important places to look for new evidence:

Pierpont Morgan Library (formerly at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY; microfilm copy still available at Roosevelt Library):
--Papers of Henry Livingston (Sr.). Family letters (1 box) of the 3d generation in the Gilbert Livingston line.

NY Historical Society
--Livingston Papers. Miscellaneous collection (6 boxes) of letters and account books in all three branches of the family (Manor, Clermont, Gilbert)

--Gilbert Livingston Papers, 1724-1836. (Six boxes of business papers, land papers, and family letters of the 3rd generation in the Gilbert line, mostly Robert G. )

--Livingston Papers, Bancroft Collection. (Letters dealing primarily with politics and some family recollections, transcripts and originals).

possibly also worth looking at:
Kinkead, Rev. George B. "Gilbert Livingston and some of his descendants," NY Genealogical and Biographical Record, 84-88 (1953-1957).

The Dutchess County Historical Society
--I haven't given them a call and don't know what kind of collection they've got.

The Balance
I've got a hunch that the Major published poetry in The Balance, anonymously and pseudonymously

Moore is reputed to have been a regular contributor to the *NY Evening Post* and to *The Portfolio.* It would be good to have a full bibliography for Moore. I find it hard to believe that he penned Xmas--but the burden of proof still rests squarely on the challengers' shoulders.

Please send along Moore's 1844 Introduction and 1856 text and letter at your earliest convenience. We need to deal with the main evidence for Moore before spending too much time tracking down the source for anecdotal material, etc. I'm rooting for the Major and would love to prove Moore a liar but it will take more evidence for the Major, and more holes in the case for Moore, than we've got so far.

Not urgent:
--On the plus side: I had already noted one "Address of a Newsboy" poem possibly by the major--and it appeared first in The Balance. There may be quite a few poems by the Major, published in the Balance but not yet identified as the Major's. (If you see the name "Harry Croswell" anywhere in connection with the Livingston family, make a note of it. Croswell was the publisher of the Balance, and he seems to have shared the Major's insistently democratic political sensibilities)

--Date that Arthur Breese married Henry's daughter [name]?

--Date on which Morse acquired the Major's property?

--Del Re: "Before both of them was a letter from editor and friend Charles Genno Hoffmann, of The New York Book of Poetry, thanking Moore for his letter." If any such letter exists, you'll need to find it.




I've just been to visit your Website--didn't have time before to look at the whole array--very nicely done!

I arrived too late to benefit from your posting of the genealogical data. Can you help me with the Major's family so that I don't get confused about who's who?

Major Henry Livingston = Sarah Welles -->

1778-1813 Henry W.
1794-1847 Charles P.
1796-1856 Sidney M.
1798-1863 Edwin G.
?-? Catherine Livingston Breese
?-? other daughters?

(plus second generation if convenient)

Which are the children who said they remembered hearing their dad read Xmas c. 1805?

Don Foster, 13 Aug 1999

What is the source for the Livingston poems you've already sent me? family MSS?
Can you use internal evidence to supply dates for any of the undated Livingston poems?
Do you have any document in which Livingston actually writes Dunder/Donder and/or Blixen/Blitzen, or is it merely anecdotal that he used that old Dutch oath?
Have the texts of Livingston's poems in yr. possession ever been checked against the printed versions in the PoK Journal or elsewhere?
Have dates of composition been checked against dates of newspaper publication?
Are there indications that the Major himself submitted his work for publication in the PoK Journal or elsewhere? if not, who did, his wife?
Everyone cites some version of the story that Clement Moore wrote the poem on a sleigh ride from Greenwich Village in 1822; that Sarah Harriet Butler copied the poem into her diary on a visit to the Moore residence from upstate NY; and that Butler's father sent the poem a year later (in 1823) to the Troy Sentinel.
Do you know when and where that story first appears, and do you have the text?
Is it in the Troy Sentinel publication that Sarah Butler is first identified as the source?
Can you tell me again what what the relationship was between Clement Moore and Sarah Butler? ("a family friend," acc. to one source)
Can you tell me again how Moore may have acquired the text from the Livingstons?
If the Major never published the poem, how would Clement Moore have acquired a copy?
If indeed Moore came home that night in 1822 with a copy of ":A Visit," and if hed not write it, he acquired the text while in Greenwich Village.
Were there Livingston kin or friends in Greenwich Village who may have been visited by Moore? (Unless there is some diary or journal by Clement Moore these questions will probably never be answered.)
> There is a long piece of prose which was published, I think, but not as a >standalone book. There was also his diary of the trip up the Hudson with >General Montgomery, but that got published in a Pennsylvania journal.
I found the journal yesterday morning (PA Mag of History and Biography) and ordered it on interlibrary loan but I did not find the "long piece of prose." If you have more info. I may be able to track it down for you.
> The only places I know at this moment that [Moore] does accept credit is >in the signed handwritten copy (you say there are 4 of these).
I'm trying to locate all exemplars of Moore's manuscript copy of "A Visit" and, if possible, to date each MS copy. It was an archivist at the Huntington who told me there are four known copies, but she did not know where. So far, I've found three:p> 1 (from a news story): "Ralph Gadiel, owner of a Northbrook, Ill., company specializing in Christmas paraphernalia, bought one of the three known hand-drafted copies of "A Visit From St. Nicholas" at a Christie's auction for $255,000. He promptly put the document on a tour of department stores in 34 cities.....'It is a very effective way to merchandise the products we sell,' Mr. Gadiel said. One new product is a reproduction of the document. Price: $20."

2. the archivist at the Huntington, Susan Hodson, told me a little about the Huntington copy (printed facsimile for $18.95 + $5.95 for shipping. It is she who told me that four copies survive in Moore's hand--but she wasn't sure that anyone had ever checked Moore's handwriting against any of the four handwritten copies of "A Visit." She's trying to get answers for me to a number of questions and will report back to me next week on the handwriting, etc.

3. a third copy is owned by the Historical Society (which I believe you've already seen?).

fourth copy = ?

Publishers will never give up on the Moore attribution unless we cover all bases. A few essential tasks:

1. Handwriting verification.
The Huntington Library copy (and perhaps the others) is signed by Moore (not yet dated, but probably sometime after Livingston's death). We'll need to make sure that the MSS are indeed Moore's (it's not Livingston's hand). I'm assuming that the MSS copies will indeed prove to be Moore's own writing.

2. Photofacsimiles or accurate transcriptions of the Moore MSS of "A Visit."
If the MSS copies are indeed in Moore's hand, we'll need to get an exact transscription. If there are substantive mistakes or variants in one or more of the MSS copies, it may constitute evidence that Moore was only a scribal copier, not the author, of "A Visit." (One possible explanation for the Moore attribution is that Moore copied out the poem before 1837 and signed it as a Christmas letter, after which it was passed along to the editor of NY Book of Poetry as Moore's.) There are some philological issues to consider as well (e.g., Dunder/Donder/Donner).

3. Correspondence, especially Christmas letters, from Moore (I'm interested in learning whether he writes "Merry Christmas" (which has been the more common form as far back as the 16th century) or "Happy Christmas" (as in the Major's letter).

4. More writing by Livingston.
It's unfortunate that so little poetry by Livingston has survived later than 1787. The Po'k journal in 1805-25 published many verses similar in tone, meter, prosody to "A Visit," one or more of which may be the Major's--but we can't use anonymous poems to demonstrate authorship of another anonymous or disputed poem.
I look forward to reading the 1803 New Year's poem.
If you have any prose by the Major later than 1800, that could be as useful for my purposes as poetry from the 1770s and 1780s.

5. Stylistic evidence.
I think it highly unlikely that Moore wrote "A Visit," but he was influenced enough by "A Visit" to provide some problems for his claim to be overturned. A few examples:

... "Do see," cried Charles, "that little swarthy man,
In long black boots, who holds his book so near
To his snub-nose; help laughing if you can"---...

... Virginia's weed will chew or smoke,
Or opium's treach'rous aid invoke,
And raise for abstinence a clatter
'Mid clouds of smoke, and spit and spatter....

[the entire poem is a problem, especially such lines as these:]
Hereupon, a debate, like a whirlwind, arose,
Which seem'd fast approaching to bitings and blows;
'Mid squeaking and grunting, Pig's arguments flowing;
And Chick venting fury 'twixt screaming and crowing.
At length, to decide the affair, 'twas agreed
That to counsellor Owl they should straightway proceed;...

re: >I don't think I know how to do a search in newspapers.
--Nor does anyone. There's no easy way to search 18th and early 19th century newspapers--there are virtually no index-resources for early newspapers. It would take a long time just to wade through the Po'K journal. I can help you by identifying names and locations of pertinent newspapers and I will read the Po'K Journal poetry column as I have time.



Our copies of Moore evidently crossed paths in cyberspace! If you can, please type all that's missing from my electonic copy. I've read, for example, that Moore in the *Poems* dedicates "A Visit" to his children, but nothing of that sort appears in my electronic copy. Is there a preface, introduction, footnote, or dedicatory epistle by Moore?

I let myself get sidetracked yesterday by St. Nick. Today I've got to do other work.

Good luck with tracking down the remaining poetry by Livingston. It's going to be a tough argument to make without more writing by Livingston (especially more of his late verse--.can it be shown that he wrote any poetry at all after 1803?).

Did I read somewhere (e.g., in your notes) that there are letters or poetry by Moore and/or Livingston in the NY Public Library?

Gotta run.


<"The Night Before Christmas": Who Wrote It?> by Niels H. Sonne, which is a >reprint from The Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, >Vol. XLI, No. 4 (1972 or 1973).

I ordered that article yesterday morning from our Interlibrary loan. I can send you a copy when it arrives. You can see, from Sonne's remarks, what you're up against. The evidence, if it is to overthrow Moore's claim, will have to be pretty decisive...


Don Foster, 12 Aug 1999


This morning while scanning rapidly through a microfilm copy of the Poughkeepsie Journal (1802-1806), I found a number of poems that might be Livingston's, though I did not take time to study them since I have not yet studied Livingston's authenticated poems. Several "maybes" were reprinted in the PoK J "from The Balance." I don't have the time but it might be worthwhile to look through The Balance (1) in search of comic anapestic verses; (2) references to Livingston (though he's in PoK, I suspect that no one has looked for references to the Major in the Hudson paper); (3) anything possibly by Livingston in the holiday season. The Balance was a newspaper published out of Hudson (and, for a while, from Albany); variant titles include "The Balance and Columbian Repository," "The Balance and State Journal," et al.

The most thorough extant collection of Clement Clarke Moore's writing may be St. Mark's Library, General Theological Seminary, Manhattan, where you'll find such oddities as a "Description of a conversation between an Indian and an English officer "during the war which began in 1759," illustrating Indian rhetoric."

Quick question: what year did Moore's wife die (Elisabeth Taylor Moore)?

5 p.m., gotta run. This evening I'll try to look over some or all of your new material.


Don Foster

One final note before I go home. I believe that Moore was first credited with "A Visit" in *New York Book of Poetry* (1837), which is in Vassar's special collections, but I've not had time to look at it.

okay, one more quick question: Washington Irving (1783-1859) was much younger than Livingston; but is it known whether or not Irving and Livingston ever met? any evidence that Irving read Livingston's poetry, or that Livingston read *Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York* (1809)?

more soon...

Last question before I go home! Do you have the full text of this Livingston poem? (something I picked up off the Web):

But hark! What a clatter! The Jolly bells ringing
The lads and lasses so jovially singing
'Tis New Year's they shout and they haul me along
In the midst of their merry-make juvenile throng
But I burst from their grasp unforgetful of duty
To pay first obeisance to wisdom and beauty
On your patience to trespass, no longer I dare
So, bowing, I wish you a Happy New Year

Don Foster, 11 Aug 1999

Dear Mary,

I haven't yet read Moore's poems, but the case for Moore's authorship of "A Vist from St. Nicholas" seems, on the face of it, doubtful at best and the case for Livingston's authorship quite strong. We will have to separate hard evidence from hearsay, and look closely at the pertinent documents, but you've hooked my interest.

After speaking with you the other day I did a little poking around and found that a lot has already been written about Major Livingston. If it turns out that Livingston is indeed the author of the poem, much of the published commentary is grossly unfair--the Livingstons' have been represented as spoilsport Ebeneezer Scrooges out to darken "A Visit from St. Nicholas" with improbable stories of lost manuscripts, etc.. Because the attribution to Moore has the weight of tradition behind it, there will have to be an authoritative refutation for Moore's authorship to be discredited. It may take a miracle for publishers to expunge Moore's name from future editions and to replace it with Livingston's, but we may be able to pull it off. If I can prove to my own satisfaction that Livingston wrote "A Visit," I'd be happy to lay out the evidence--and I may be in a unique position, given my reputation as an attributional expert, to make my verdict stick. Unfortunately, I run at a dizzying pace and can't take on this project without some help. Here's how this little investigation might work to our mutual advantage:

I can't promise at this point that there will be sufficient evidence to overturn the conventional wisdom, but I'd not be offering to take this on if it did not look like a promising outcome.

First, a few questions:
1. There are four extant copies of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in Moore's own hand. Do you have photofacsimile of one or more of those originals?
2. Do you have any authenticated handwriting by Major Henry Livingston?
3. Do you have any authenticated handwriting by Clement Clarke Moore?
4. Do you have a complete or at least comprehensive bibliography of
Moore's and Livingston's publications (poetry and prose) in newspapers, magazines, and/or academic journals?
5. Did Livingston ever publish a book? (I find no books by him in OCLC Worldcat, which is the first place I looked)
6. Do you happen to know if Anne Home Shippen Livingston (1763-1841) is this a relation to Major Henry Livingston? (not terribly important)
7. Is Henry Alexander Livingston (1776-1849) a close relation of Major Henry Livingston (d. 1828)? Henry A. Livingston is credited with a typescript (1844) called "The Livingston Family"
8. Where does Moore deny authorship prior to1844? It is essential for us to see the original documents.
9. Where, besides the *Poems*, does Moore accept credit for "A Visit"?

Even if you don't have a complete bibliography of writings by Moore and by Livingston, can you at least tell me where you've looked so that we don't do double-labor?


To Ian Lancashire, 6 Aug 1999

I found Don's number at Vassar and called him. I read him a bit of the Beekman poem and he is definitely interested. If he does decide to get involved, what I need to do is find a way to take on most of the burden of work myself and make use of his expertise with limited time hits on him. Being a video producer has taught me to do that pretty well.

Oh, and I found a large number of letters on the conflict and an article that was published in the Christian Science newspaper in 1977. That must be the basis of the Fleetwood first day cover statement about scholars having decided that Henry Livingston wrote the poem. How fleeting fame. Even Fleetwood doesn't remember why they said that. But it gives me more pointers to where people may have deposited their history of the conflict. They say that the descendants have been trying to prove since 1860 that Henry wrote the poem.

"talk" to you when I get back from NY.


(Life is glorious, isn't it? God, I love having a project again.)

Ian Lancashire, 5 Aug 1999

Dear Mary,

Just a few technical references for you because you will know what to take and what to leave. F. Mosteller and D. L. Wallace's Applied Bayesian and Classical Inference: The Case of the Federalist Papers (Addison-Wesley, 1964) is still the most successful attribution. (And like your case study, there are only two authors, both of whom have ample texts surviving.) D. I. Holmes and R. S. Forsyth recently applied neural-net techniques to the Federalist papers; see their "The Federalist Revisited: New Directions in Authorship Attribution," Literary and Linguistic Computing 10.2 (Oxford University Press 1995): 111-27. The best statistics scientist in attribution is this David I. Holmes; I think he's working at the College of New Jersey. He published an article, "The Evolution of Stylometry in Humanities Scholarship," also in Lit and Ling Comp 13.3 (1998): 111-17.

You might also have heard of Donald W. Foster (English, Vassar College), who identified the anonymous author of Primary Colours and pretty successfully attributed A Funeral Elegy (1613) to Shakespeare. I know David Holmes, but Don's a closer friend. He's taken some time off recently to help solve a few criminal cases in the US. Don lives in Poughkeepsie.

Your theory of the poem's transmission makes sense. Moore was reluctant to have his name attached to the poem for a long time. He must have been uncomfortable with his situation for decades. (I wonder why ...)

Once you have the collected Major Henry in hand, I'd like to excerpt some for Representative Poetry On-line. It would be easy to refer readers to your own Web site. Your three last examples were delightful. He surely has his own voice, quite unlike any other poet known to me, though he's clearly American in his approach to the world and in his kindly sense of humour. Your Hoosier poet Riley belonged to the same culture and stood out from other poets for a like reason.

The teaching of poetry since WW2 has really put so much wonderful verse under a shadow. Young people should read Riley as well as Longfellow, John Betjeman with T. S. Eliot, and Edna St Vincent Millay or Dorothy Parker before Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

It's been lovely hearing from you and learning about the Major and his family ... and his descendents.

You don't read as if you're any older than 25.

Best wishes,


Ian Lancashire, 4 Aug 1999

Dear Mary Van Deusen,

Thank you for your delightful letter and kind correction.

Livingston writes exceptionally well, doesn't he, for a verse epistle. I'm impressed. His metre, diction, and wit all suit the St Nicholas poem.

You might be able to make a persuasive case for Livingston if he claimed the poem before 1837 and if his circumstances placed him or his correspondents near Troy. Clement said that he read the poem to his daughters and, evidently, Harriet Butler, in the winter of 1822. The question is, did he write himself the poem that he read them all?

You might consider trying text-analysis. Look for stylistic habits of which authors are unconscious -- for instance, repeated function-word combinations -- and for vocabulary. You would have to have both authors' works entered into a computer, and then run a text-analysis program to get the word- and phrase-lists on each. Oxford UP puts out a convenient program called Wordsmith (I believe). I co-authored TACT, a program available from the Modern Language Association of America in New York. This is a little more complicated but can deliver the comparative information needed.

You'll have an uphill battle, of course, given the traditions that have grown up around Clement's authorship.

Good luck with your research. If you can, please keep me informed about Livingston's poetry.

Best wishes,

Ian Lancashire

Ian Lancashire, Representative Poetry Online
University of Toronto

And so the attribution to the poem in Ian's online archive has changed.

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