Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Thomas Bailey Aldrich moved with his father to New Orleans, Louisiana at the age of three. He remained there until age thirteen, when his father's impending death prompted Aldrich's return to New Hampshire and his mother's household (Parker). At age sixteen, Aldrich started working as a clerk for his uncle, Charles Frost: "While working over the books of the firm, his mind was often busy with themes outside of the commission house, all leading towards a literary career" (Hemstreet 218). The clerkship in his uncle's office was not overly demanding, and during his free time Aldrich found many opportunities to explore his literary talents.
After three years Aldrich "had become known as a writer of graceful, sentimental, and ironical verse and had gathered enough work to make a volume which appeared under the title of The Bells" (Parker). At age nineteen, Aldrich was able to resign his clerkship and take up the position of junior literary critic for the Evening Mirror . That same year, he left the Mirror and took an editorial position at N. P. Willis's Home Journal . Among the Pfaffians, Aldrich was closest to William Winter, with whom he maintained a long friendship, even dedicating a poem to him in the Home Journal. Aldrich and Winter shared "a love of beauty and sentiment, and a strong moral bent" (Miller 73). When Henry Clapp, Jr. formed the Saturday Press in 1858, Aldrich became an associate editor and regular contributor (Miller 26). However, Ferris Greenslet notes that he never lost his reserved nature: "despite his close friendship with many of the men, Aldrich never went very far with the self-conscious Bohemianism that, transplanted from its native Paris soil, put forth few blossoms of other than dubious fragrance. He was an occasional attendant at the compotations at Pfaff's celebrated resort in the basement of 647 Broadway. But there is plenty of evidence that he was usually glad to escape to the quiet of his little hall-room. There was a kind of critical reserve at the root of his temperament that made noisy and promiscuous hilarity distasteful to him" (41).
Despite his desire to serve in the army or the navy, Aldrich instead worked as a war correspondent for the New York Tribune during the Civil War. In 1862 he returned to New York City and worked as an advisor for a publishing company before taking a position as managing editor of the Illustrated News (Parker). It was during this return trip to New York that Aldrich became engaged to Lilian Woodman and wrote Judith and Holofernes and Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book (Parker).
In 1865 Aldrich married Woodman and abandoned his life in New York City in favor of a more reserved existence in Boston, leaving behind the Bohemian lifestyle he had once supported. Several years after the move, he wrote to Bayard Taylor, "who could understand: 'I miss my few dear friends in New York-but that is all. There is a finer intellectual atmosphere here than in our city....The people of Boston are full-blooded readers, appreciative, trained'" (qtd. in Boynton 328-29). He became editor of Every Saturday and held the post for seven years. In 1869 he published his best known work, an autobiographical account of his life entitled The Story of a Bad Boy . Aldrich's "bad boy," Tom Bailey, "led the way for the satiric unconventionality of Tom Sawyer and the gritty realism of Huck Finn and his alcoholic, abusive Pap" (Watters). In the following years, Aldrich published several works of fiction, including Prudence Palfrey (1874), The Queen of Sheba (1877), and The Stillwater Tragedy (1880).
Aldrich reached the pinnacle of editorial achievement in 1881 when he was chosen to replace William Dean Howells as editor of the Atlantic Monthly . "Then followed nine years, from 1881 to 1890, during which Aldrich exerted his greatest influence on American letters. The delicacy, charm, and precision of workmanship which were associated with his name gave him authority in the matter of literary taste which few Americans had possessed before him" (Parker). In 1890 Aldrich retired from the Atlantic Monthly and spent the next seventeen years as a "man of letters and leisure" (Parker). He published four volumes of stories and essays: An Old Town by the Sea (1893), Two Bites at a Cherry (1894), A Sea Turn and Other Matters (1902), and Ponkapog Papers (1903). His last work, a poem entitled "Longfellow" was "finished only a short time before his death, and, with touching appropriateness, was read at his funeral. It was singularly fitting that Aldrich's tribute to the master from whom he had drawn his earliest inspiration should have afforded his own requiem" (Parker).
This poem parodies Aldrich's "My North and South."
Aldrich is mentioned as one of the "bright spirits" who met at Pfaff's.[pages:10]
Aldrich is the prominent figure in his wife's memoir about their life together.
Mrs. Aldrich recounts that during a breakfast with the Booths, the Booths described to her and her sister in detail the members of a party at the Stoddards' the night before. During the literary caricatures drawn by the Booths, the following was given of Aldrich by one of the girls in a "case of idealistic episode of mistaken identity": "Do you mean the poet, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who wrote the beautful 'Ballad of Babie Bell'? Wait. I think I could almost paint Mr. Aldrich myself. I know his poems so well that the outward semblance of the man takes shape, visual and vitalizing -- Mr. Aldrich must be a man about thirty-five years old, tall, slender, with black hair, piercing eyes, pallid face stamped with melancholy, which grief for the death of that child and its mother must have indelibly written there -- you both must remember in their beauty and pathos the last lines of that poem:
'We wove the roses round her brow --
White buds, the summer's drifted snow, --
Wrapt her from head to foot in flowers...
And thus went dainty Babie Bell
Out of this world of ours!'
And in the beginning of that wonderful poem, Mr Aldrich tells us--
'The mother's being ceased on earth
When baby came from Paradise!'
According to Mrs Aldrich, this portrait was met with suppressed laughter. Booth recovered himself enough to state "In poetry, and in play acting, nothing is, but what it is not. Tom Aldrich does not look twenty; he is short and blond and gay and brilliant; never had a wife, never had a child; never had anything, I guess, but the Muses, and poetical license" (18-19).
Mrs. Aldrich writes that Ferris Greenslet's portrayal of her husband during the years of the Civil War in his Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich "visualizes him as he was at this time in his life with such accuracy that the words become as a glass in which he stands reflected" (24).
In late 1862/early 1863, Aldrich worked as the editor of the "Illustrated News" and visited the Stoddards from time to time. Mrs. Aldrich depicts him during one of these visits "describing to his hostess the tribulation and dismay of a helpless editor when the proprietor of his journal comes to him with a foot-rule in his hand, and demands and editorial of seven inches and three quarters -- no more nor less -- as he has measured the space on a blank sheet and the proportion looks well!" (29).
For Booth's theatrical engagement beginning February 9, 1863, Mrs. Booth was unable to accompany him to New York and asked his friends to look after her husband. Aldrich and Thompson "were the two nights that threw the glove and entered the field" to look after their friend, who often came up with ways to elude his chaperones. Each man took turns keeping Booth under constant supervision, claiming devotion and the enjoyment of their friend's company. As Mrs. Aldrich puts it, "only once for a moment was the mask lifted," when Booth attempted to get Aldrich away from his dressing room, suggesting other things he could do in the theater. During this conversation, a messenger boy arrived with a "suspicious-looking beverage" on a tray. Booth reached for it, but Aldrich was quicker and poured the contents of the glass out the window. The two men did not speak for the rest of the evening and spent the night walking the city until Booth and Aldrich finally tired and returned to his hotel. Mrs. Aldrich reports that this same tactic was used by the elder Booth on Edwin when he wanted to be left alone. The next day, Booth was back to normal and the men did not speak of the event (29-33).
Mrs. Aldrich writes that her husband was sent to New York to work as a clerk in his uncle's banking house shortly after his father's death when he was fourteen. There "his days were given to the perplexities of uncongenial work, the nights spent with his tutor in the work he delighted in, studies and books, with now and then time taken for occasional verses, to be written and printed in the Poet's Corner of the 'Portsmouth Journal' (45). At nineteen, Aldrich was given an ultimatum by his uncle to choose the business or literature; he chose literature. "At this time Mr. Aldrich was nineteen years old. He had written his first volume of verse, written a poem which gained almost at once a national celebrity, and resigned his place in his uncle's counting-room, to follow the life of letters" (45-46).
N.P. Willis offered Aldrich an editorial position at the "Home Journal" when Aldrich was nineteen. The office had previously been filled by Poe and James Parton. Of this early position, Mrs. Aldrich writes: "Very graphic were the word-pictures Mr. Aldrich made of this slender youth, sitting in a state in the editorial chair, and of the painful mortification caused by the perversity of his golden hair, which would curl when the day was damp or warm, giving to him a look of boyishness most ill-adapted to the new dignity" (46). During this time, Aldrich seems to have enjoyed visiting Willis at his home, Idlewild, on the Hudson River (46).
While editing the "Illustrated News" during the Civil War, Aldrich went outside to sketch a mob that was assembled to protest the drafting of men into the Army. One of the leaders noticed him and began yelling "Down with him! Down with him! Kill him!" Aldrich ran and barely escaped without serious injury; he had cuts on his wrists and was unable to write for a period (54).
Mrs. Aldrich writes that her husband had a wide circle of friends in the artistic and literary worlds; she expresses gratitude for their warm welcome upon her engagement (55-57).
After Lincoln's assassination, Aldrich was one of a group of friends who waited at Booth's New York home for his arrival. "In the sad days following this home-coming, Mr. Aldrich was Mr. Booth's constant companion, a vigil that was not without threatening danger, as daily letters, notes, and messages came to the house addressed to Mr. Booth warning him that the name of Booth should be exterminated. None should bear it and live. 'Bullets were marked for him and his household.' 'His house would be burnt.' Cries for justice and vengeance, and every other indignity that hot indignation and wrathful words could ignite" (74). Aldrich remained with Booth until and after his brother was caught and was also with Booth when a telegram arrived for his mother with the news that his sister, Mrs. Clarke, was seriously ill in Philadelpia (74-75).
In 1865, J.R. Osgood offered Aldrich the editorship of "Every Saturday." The paper was to debut January 1, 1866, in Boston. Aldrich was married to Miss Woodman November 28, 1865, in New York. Bayard Taylor wrote a sonnet for the occasion (85). Shortly after starting his new position in Boston at "Every Saturday," Aldrich became friends with William Dean Howells, then an assitant editor at the "Atlantic Monthly" (87).
Aldrich was also able to meet Dickens when he was doing editorial work for Ticknor and Fields (99). Mrs. Aldrich also dicusses the writing of the story "The Nutter House" and "The Story of a Bad Boy" (110-118).
Mrs. Aldrich gave birth to twin boys September 17, 1868. One month after receiving a note from Howells announcing that "I have a fine boy," Aldrich sent him a letter on September 18, announcing, "I have TWO fine boys" (118).
Aldrich's "epsitilatory acquaintance" with Samuel Clemens began with "a savage letter Mark Twain had written to Mr. Aldrich, not as a comrade and fellow worker, but to the unscrupulous and unreliable editor of 'Every Saturday.' Mr. Aldrich had copied from another periodical some rhymes credited to Mark Twain about a euchre game that was turned into poker, and evidently had commented on them unfavorably, as being an imitation of Bret Harte's 'Heathen Chinee.' Mr Clemens wrote to say the lines were not his, and he wished to have the misstatement corrected, which Mr. Aldrich, in a very complimentary paragraph, immediately did." Mrs. Aldrich also recounts her displeasure at her husband's dinner invitation to a seemingly intoxicated man; after an icy evening that included several attempts by Mr. Aldrich to warm up his wife's demeanor, the guest excused himself. After a bout of hysterics prompted by her husband's questions as to why she was so rude to their guest, Mrs. Aldrich found out that Mark Twain had been their intended dinner guest and that the behavior she mistook for intoxication were really his mannerisms and speech patterns (127-132).
Of Aldrich's wit, Twain once said: "Mr. Aldrich has never had his peer for prompt and pithy and humorous sayings. None has equalled him, certainly none surpassed him in the felicity of phrasing with which he clothes those children of his fancy. Aldrich is always brilliant; he can't help it; he is a fire opal set round with rose diamonds; when he is not speaking, you know that his dainty fancies are twinkling and glimmering around in him; when he speaks the diamonds flash. Yes, he is always brilliant; he will be brilliant in hell, you will see" (145).
Mrs. Aldrich reprints correspondence from Stedman and Twain welcoming her husband home after six months abroad (219).
Mrs. Aldrich writes of Aldrich's sadness over Bayard Taylor's death in 1878, and notes that he wrote in a letter to Stedman that November, "I have a presentiment he will never return." Mrs. Aldrich prints another part of a December 20, 1878, letter to Stedman in which Aldrich expresses his sadness over their mutual loss (224).
Aldrich was named the editor of the "Atlantic Monthly" in 1881, after the resignation of Howells. Mrs. Aldrich cites both Greenslet and Aldrich's secretary of nine years, Miss Francis, for descriptions of her husband at that time (245). Aldrich retired from this position after nine years, in 1890 (270).
Clemens, Aldrich, Curtis, and Howells were among the speakers at the "Authors' Reading" done by the friends of Longfellow for the Longfellow Memorial Fund (256).
Aldrich is credited with naming Booth's Actor's Club the "Players' Club" (263).
Aldrich died March 19,1904. "Impressive funeral services, 'befitting a poet's passing'" were held at the Arlington Street Church. According to his wife, "the friends he loved most 'bent over his bier.'" Aldrich was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetary, next to one of his sons (285). Aldrich's epitaph reads:
"...How trivial now
To him most earthly laurel be
Who wears the amaranth on his brow!
How vain the voices of mortality!
So take him earth, and this his mortal part
With that shrewd alchemy thou hast, transmute
To flower and leaf in thine undending Springs!" (286).
Extra page numbers: 285-286[pages:18-19,22,24,29-33,43-48,49-53,54,55-59,74-75,85,87-88,99,110-118,127-132,145,169-172,193-194,201-216,219,220-222,224,245,255-263,270,271-279,284]
Aldrich is listed as one of Pfaff's "literary customers" who sat at the large, reserved table against the establishment's far wall. Allen mentions that Aldrich "later went to Boston and became 'respectable'" (229). Allen continues that Aldrich and Stoddard were most likely as "respectable" Howells, "and doubtless none of them were as wicked as they tried to appear" (231).[pages:229,231]
He received "backhanded praise" from Whitman for his "poetic 'tinkles.'"[pages:389]
Baker discusses his role as the editor of the Atlantic Monthly. Baker notes that Whitman mentioned making his aquaitance "in New York, at the beershop."
Baker discusses the difficulty in characterizing Aldrich based on his relationship with the Pfaffians and his tenure as the assistant editor of The Saturday Press.[pages:284, 285, 286,289, 290, 295, 299]
Belasco mentions that his poetry was printed in Clapp's columns of "original" poems, which usually appeared on the first page of the Saturday Press (252).[pages:252]
Called a "Metropolitan Poet." Boynton claims Aldrich returned to Boston always feeling like a newcomer (324).
(Boynton's description of Aldrich's interactions with the Pfaffians and his New York experience):
"[...] 'Bohemia,' with its rallying point at Pfaff's restaurant, the visible rallying place for the authors. Aldrich gravitated toward this group, but never really belonged to it. Just why he did not can be inferred from a sentence by Howells, whose nature was very like his own: 'I remember that, as I sat at the table, under the pavement, in Pfaff's beer-cellar, and listened to the wit that did not seem very funny, I thought of the dinner with Lowell, the breakfast with Fields, the supper at the Autocrat's, and felt that I had fallen very far.' The men who gathered at Pfaff's were very conscious of Boston, though their consciousness came out in various ways. The most violent said that the thought of it made them as ugly as sin; others loved it thought they left it, as Whitman did 'the open road'; and some, on the outskirts of 'Bohemia,' were not too aggressively like Stedman, who admitted much later, ' I was very anxious to bring out my first book in New York in Boston style, having a reverence for Boston, which I continued to have.' Aldrich was of like mind, and readily accepted Osgood's invitation to 'the Hub' and to the editorship of Every Saturday. Years after he wrote to Bayard Taylor, who could understand: 'I miss my few dear friends in New York-but that is all. There is a finer intellectual atmosphere here than in our city....The people of Boston are full-blooded readers, appreciative, trained.' And later, to Stedman: 'In the six years I have been here, I have found seven or eight hearts so full of noble things that there is no room in them for such trifles as envy and conceit and insincerity. I didn't find more than two or three such in New York, and I lived there fifteen years. It was an excellent school for me-to get out of!'" (328-239).
(Boynton's description of the motivation/mood of some of the writers known to visit Pfaff's)
"Stedman, Aldrich, and Stoddard had courted the muse as a kind of alien divinity and enjoyed excursions into the distant land of her dwelling-place. But their poetry was a poetry of accomplishment; an embellishment of life, and not an integral part of it (see pp. 324-326). It was a period when people were tempted with some reason to dwell on the 'good old days,' and for a while it seemed as though it would be long before the world would see their like again." (453-454)
Early in his publishing career, Derby hired Aldrich as an assistant reader (34). Aldrich was also one of the writers gathered at the complimentary fruit and flower festival held for distinguished authors by New York publishers at the Crystal Palace in 1855 (35).
Derby recalls meeting Aldrich for the first time when Aldrich was seventeen (in 1854) and seeking a publisher for his first volume of verses. Derby advised Aldrich to submit his MS. to his reader, George Ripley, the literary critic at the Tribune, as "it was commercially hazardous for publishers to risk their money in publishing volumes of poetry, especially of a beginner and one so young as he" (227). Derby notes that Aldrich "now ranks among our best American poets" (227). The Bells, by T.B.A., as it was first published received a "decidedly favorable" opinion from the reader, which prompted the publication. According to Derby, this first volume was neither a commercial nor a critical success (228).
Derby also tells the story of Aldrich's the Ballad of Baby Bell, published in 1856 by G.W. Carelton, which Derby notes "became very popular and is now included in a beautifully illustrated collection of the author's complete poetical writings just published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co" (229). Aldrich met Fitz Greene Halleck through Frederick S. Cozzens after the poem caught Cozzens's attention (229).
Aldrich's first job in the literary world was writing literary notices in The New York Evening Mirror (230).
Some poems Aldrich submitted the The Home Journal caught the attention of N. P. Willis, the editor, who "introduced [the poems] to its readers in a very flattering manner. A habit Mr. Willis always indulged in, when young writers sent in contributions in prose or poetry, that he really liked" (230). After this, Willis suggested to his partner Gen. Geo. P. Morris that he go see Aldrich and hire him as an assitant editor (230).
According to Derby, Willis usually came to the city only twice a month during this period, spending most of his time at his home at Idle-Wild. Aldrich was working at The Home Journal six months before he met Willis (230-231). Derby writes of their first meeting: "One day as he sat in the editorial sanctum, stretched out on three chairs, each foot on a chair, placidly smoking a cigar and lazily looking over the exchanges, he was startled by the sudden appearance of a tall, pleasant looking gentleman, who said, 'Is this Mr. Aldrich? My name is Willis.' The young autocrat of an editor was very much embarassed for the moment, but the famous poet, who was a man of the world, took the situation in at once, and soon put him entirely at ease. In less than five minutes, the young editor felt as if he had known the editor-in-chief all his life" (231). Before Aldrich occupied his desk at The Home Journal, James Aldrich (no relation), Poe, and James Parton, had worked at the same desk; "It was a curious fact and tradition in the Home Journal office, that the same desk shold have been occupied by tehse three distinugished authors, Poe, Parton, and Aldrich" (231). Aldrich stayed at The Home Journal for about three years, until he became involved in the Saturday Press (231-232). Derby writes about how, during his association with the Saturday Press, Aldrich frequently missed receiving the advertising revenues because of his habit of sleeping later than Clapp (232).
Shortly after his association with the Saturday Press, Aldrich became associated with the Atlantic Monthly (232). After Howells's retirement in 1880, "for the past four years this great exponent of the best literature of the day, now the property of its present publishers, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., has been under the exclusive editorial control of Mr. Aldrich" (232).
Derby also notes that Aldrich's works "whether prose or poetry, have a steady and increasing sale" (233).
He is mentioned as one of the "brightest and most popular humorous men of the day," known to rally around the book store of George W. Carleton. Derby notes that "the noonday hour frequently found most of them at Pfaff's celebrated German restuarant, in a Broadway basement, near Bleecker-street, the rendezvous at that day of the so-called Bohemians" (239).[pages:34,35,222,227-234,239,251,603]
Emerson links Aldrich and Twain together through their two bad boy characters. According to Emerson, Twain was consciously drawing on the themes already being developed by Aldrich and other literary contemporaries; "like Aldrich's boy, Tom Bailey, Tom Sawyer is a bookish boy, and the book as a whole has a bookish, 'Eastern' quality" (92). This similar literary fascination could link the two writers and highlight their friendship.
Mentioned as one of the Bohemians at Pfaff's "gossiped" about by Rufus B. Wilson in a "reminiscent letter to the Galveston News." The blurb gives "updates" on the whereabouts of many of the former Bohemians.
"T.B. Aldrich has achieved lasting fame as a poet and novelist, and is now the serious-minded editor of the Atlantic Monthly, with two sons in college."[pages:479]
In 1854 Aldrich wrote: "I could boast of a long line of ancestors, but won't. They are of no possible benefit to me, save it is pleasant to think that none of them were hanged for criminals or shot for traitors" (6).
Greenslet describes Aldrich in the summer of 1858, at age twenty-two "in the full tide of his early success" (37). He was also "as intimate as he ever became with the wits and poets of that lively 'Literary Bohemia' of New York half a century ago" (37).
Greenslet discusses Aldrich's reserved nature, even in the midst of the Bohemians (41).
Greenslet states that when Aldrich worked for the Saturday Press, "the youthful associate editor seems to have served the paper faithfully, writing his due quota of its 'Hugoish paragraphs of one or more syllables,' sharing in the editorial councils, and even joining in the defence when, as was not uncommon, persons whose names had been mentioned in the 'Press' endeavored to carry the office by assualt, vi et armis. It was in this office, too, and in his intermittent frequentation of Pfaff's that his wit was tempered. It was give and take there by the brightest minds of New York. The retold story and the repeated bon mot were rigorously barred, but the new good thing was sure of applause. In this fierce light Aldrich at first played a shrinking part, but soon he became known as the wielder of a rapier that no man cared to trifle with. Yet, as heretofore, his secure fineness of quality kept him from taking too deep a color of cynicism from his circle, or adopting its pose" (45).
Greenslet mentions that during this time period, Aldrich also spoke/read at colleges and traveled (45).
During the summer of 1859, Aldrich informed Stoddard that he was working on a short novel called "Glass Houses," which he was unsure as to when he would complete -- the novel would remain unfinished. That year, he published "The Ballad of Baby Bell, and Other Poems" (46).
Greenslet claims that Aldrich did not take the failure of the "Saturday Press" in early 1860 terribly hard, as his relationship to the paper was an "elastic" one. Aldrich was also informed that he would soon be published in the "Atlantic" shortly after the failure of the "Saturday Press" (48). Aldrich would edit the "Atlantic" twenty-five years later. For the next five years, Aldrich remained in New York and established himself as a writer. He maintained some of his Bohemian friendships, but "no longer the laureate of Bohemia" and "constantly expanding the radius of his poetic reputation" and forging friendships with New England writers (49).[pages:6,37,41,43,45,46,48,49,141 (ill).]
Gunn describes the meeting of Sol and Thomas Bailey Aldrich of the Home Journal, "Talking with Sol Eytinge the other day O'B spoke of Willis (N.P.) saying "He's rather sick – I dined with him yesterday." Subsequently Sol met Aldrich (of the "Home Journal") who casually mentioned that he had on that same yesterday introduced O'B to Willis! Only a few common places passed!"[pages:86]
Gunn describes Clapp's hatred toward Brisbane: "I believe he admires Stephen Pearl Andrews and hates Brisbane – he was always saying infernal things of the 'meanness' of the latter" (15).
Aldrich is described as having left the Saturday Press : "O'Brien's left the Saturday Press, which, he says, owed him some $100 and more. Wilkins supersedes him and does better. The paper is horridly in debt, the milch-cow having gone south. So the hideous little 'free-lover' and Socialist (Clapp is both) has it all his own way – Aldrich having left, too" (103).[pages:15, 103]
Shepherd is accused of plagiarizing a poem by Aldrich: "Of Clapp denouncing Shepherd in the Saturday Press as a plagiarist &c, Shepherd having forwarded a little poem which Clapp assumed to be similar to one of Aldrich's. Cahill and Arnold went and bullied Clapp about it and Daisy, writing a letter hinting at cowhiding the hideous little editor apologized openly in his next number. Fearfully superfluous, licking Clapp."[pages:84]
Aldrich visits the Momus office while Gunn is conversing with Addey: "Addey presently told me he had 'engaged an editor – Mr Rosenberg!' Well, you have gone and done it, now! thought I. Stedman of the Tribune and Aldrich the poet came in. The former, black- haired, shrewd-looking, American-faced, eyes not wide enough apart, though. Aldrich, light-haired and cloaky. Before they arrived, I had read my articles and one I made Cahill write, which gave decided satisfaction."[pages:155]
Gunn comments on poets of his acquaintance and how they regard one another, "It is wholesome to know the regard that these poetasters entertain for one another; Boweryem always depreciates Stedman, Stedman affects a candid disparagement of the poetry of his friend, Aldrich, and Shepherd commented laughingly on Boweryem's speaking of his own "poems" and Shepherd's in the same breath" (21-22).
Aldrich is found in a newspaper clipping annotated by Gunn (25).[pages:21-22, 25]
A quarrel takes place between Sol Eytinge and Aldrich over Aldrich's mistress, Josey Eytinge, who is Sol's sister-in-law: "Shepherd tells me that Josey, the worthy sister of Mrs Sol. Eytinge is now the mistress of Aldrich the poet (and clerk to Carleton, publisher.) Sol quarreled with him because he wouldn't emulate his example and marry her!"[pages:70]
Hahn says he was an occasional visitor.[pages:21,32-33]
Aldrich is mentioned as one of the "Pfaff company" and as having "editorial charge" of the Saturday Press. Prior to coming to New York, Aldrich had worked for three years in Portsmouth at the "commission house of his rich uncle." "While working over the books of the firm, his mind was often busy with themes outside of the commission house, all leading towards a literary career" (218).[pages:218]
Howells claimed that to be published in the Saturday Press was to be in his "company" (63).[pages:63]
Taylor, Stoddard, Aldrich, and Stedman are mentioned as the parties in New York involved in the "inconsistent opposition" to the third edition of Leaves of Grass in 1859-1860. Lalor writes that "It was chiefly against this ambivalent group and against the naysayers of New England that Clapp did battle for Whitman, with a characteristic originality of method which was both a tribute to the Press at the same time it was a boon to Whitman" (137).[pages:137]
Mentioned as a member of the "'Pfaff group,' which assisted in the publication of the Saturday Press."[pages:832]
Aldrich is mentioned as having edited the New York Illustrated News (62). He is also noted to have brought journalistic credentials to his work on the Saturday Press (79). Indeed, Aldrich was such a committed journalist that he was almost captured as he observed the Battle of Bull Run (109).[pages:62, 79, 109, 110]
Aldrich is mentioned as one of the "mainstays of the 'genteel tradition'" who occasionally visited Pfaff's and later tried to dissociate himself from the group. This group's association with the Pfaffians "helped define the genteel Bohemianism that would come into fashion in the 1870's and 1880's" through their "antipathy towards bourgeois materialism." He would become important in the post-bellum era (21).[pages:21,86,198]
A note on Harper's Magazine lists Thomas B. Aldrich among the "principal contributors" (3).[pages:3]
A note announces the publication of Aldrich's The Ballad of Babie Bell and Other Poems by Messrs. Rudd and Carelton (3).[pages:3]
A member of Clapp's "cabinet" in the "Kingdom of Bohemia" and at the Saturday Press. The article mentions that he currently edits Every Saturday.[pages:192]
Became "respectable" and well-known after leaving NY for New England. Aldrich was remembered by Whitman as "the dainty book man" (236).[pages:236]
He is described as one of the "others who rallied" at Pfaff's.[pages:396]
A regular at Pfaff's (16). Aldrich wrote literary reviews for the newly founded Saturday Press (26).
After the Civil War several Pfaffians, including "William Winter and Thomas Bailey Aldrich turned their backs upon Bohemianism and embraced standards of taste we call 'The Genteel Tradition'" (17).
In 1858, Aldrich advised William Winter to "[b]e a good boy and don't get excited about the slavery question" (71). Aldrich had a long friendship with William Winter and Aldrich dedicated a poem to him in the Home Journal (73). Aldrich and Winter shared "a love of beauty and sentiment, and a strong moral bent" (73).
"Aldrich and his friends valued cultivation and refinement, which they associated with travel, good books, and an intellectual atmosphere. They attempted to hold on to a noble way of life which science and materialism were rapidly destroying" (83).[pages:16, 17, 25, 26, 39, 71, 73, 76, 82, 83, 128, 153]
A staff member of The Saturday Press; Aldrich's job was to write about new books. Aldrich was with the paper for three months.[pages:39]
Aldrich is described as the literary critic for the Home Journal until he was succeeded by Barry Gray.[pages:5]
Biography of Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
Parry cites Whitman's remark "Yes, Tom, I like your tinkles: I like them very well" and the enemy he made in Aldrich as an example of Whitman's tendency to be rude when others "shone" at Pfaff's (41).
Parry writes that "In the 'Seventies and 'Eighties, prosperity, which began its deadly work among the Pfaffians even before the war, raged untrammeled. Thomas Bailey Aldrich, associate editor of the Saturday Press, who at times kept ledgers on the water-front of New York and composed his 'Baby Bell' on the backs and margins of bills of lading, was destined to become the editor of the Atlantic Monthly and a leader among the despised Philistines" (61).
According to Parry, Aldrich and Howells became members of John Boyle O'Reilly's Papyrus Club in Boston, the "headquarters of Bohemia" in that city in the early 1870s. Parry is certain that when these two men were elected to the group they did not know that the club's aim was to support the Bohemian lifestyle[pages:41,61,139,181]
Personne remarks that the theaters "furnish" the "mincepie for Aldrich" (3).[pages:3]
Personne mentions Aldrich in his discussion of his "green and salad days" as a critic (3).[pages:3]
Quelqu'un mentions Aldrich in passing during his discussion the Feuilleton (2).[pages:2]
Of the scene at Pfaff's, Starr writes: "If New York was not dancing on Doomsday, the Cave at 653 Broadway belied it." For one supporting example, Starr quotes Aldrich from Vanity Fair: "We were all very merry at Pfaff's" (4).
In a discussion of the idea that "To be a Bohemian afforded license for all manner of youthful exuberances," Starr mentions that Aldrich (according to Starr,of the Tribune) and O'Brien ("known, for cause, at Pfaff's as 'Fists Gammon O'Bouncer'") "experimented at 'sleeping all day and living all night'"(7).
Starr writes that in the days prior to the Civil War, like many others in New York, the "Pfaffians were exposed increasingly to the clamour of a world beyond their ken. Something like a revolution was afoot in the realm of journalism, a revolution that would lift these light-hearted pranksters from their subterranean retreat and whirl them in its vortex. Soon O'Brien, Aldrich, Thomson, Williams, and Stedman, together with others in Clapp's happy coterie--Charles G. Halpine (who stammered to fame at Pfaff's, speaking inadvertently of 'H-H-Harriet Beseecher Bestowe'), William Conant Church, William Swinton, E.H. House, Charles Henry Webb, a couple of artists, Frank H. Bellew and Thomas Nast: in all more than half of the identifiable clientele at the Cave--would take the field along with hundreds of other youths of like mind to participate in the greatest undertaking in the history of journalism" (9).
Aldrich briefly worked as a war correspondent for the Tribune. Starr also writes that like his friend Stedman, Aldrich "looked back with incredulity at his Bohemian days at Pfaff's" (357).[pages:4,7,9,357]
Aldrich's poetry is compared to Winter's: "Mr. Aldrich's dainty love-songs caught the popular ear before the sadder sighing of Mr. Winter's muse" (470).[pages:470]
Whitman called Aldrich and Howells "errand boys."[pages:207-208]
After a year of correspondence, Aldrich and Twain finally met when the latter visited New York City; their friendship grew in the following years and Aldrich and his wife occasionally visited Twain's home in Hartford, CT. Twain explains that "when it came to making fun of a folly, a silliness, a windy pretense, a wild absurdity, Aldrich the brilliant, Aldrich the sarcastic, Aldrich the ironical, Aldrich the merciless, was a master . . . However, I am overlooking one important detail: he could do all this, and would do it with enthusiasm, if it were somebody else's foolish memorial, but it would not occur to him to make fun of it if the function was in his own honor, for he had very nearly as extensive an appreciation of himself and his gifts as had the late Edmund Clarence Stedman" (469). Twain goes on to say that while he greatly enjoyed Aldrich's company, he could not stand Mrs. Aldrich; T. B. Aldrich "was delightful company, but we never saw a great deal of him because we couldn't have him by himself" (470).[pages:378-79, 468-82]
Aldrich's poem about Pfaffs entitled "At the Cafe" is printed.[pages:2]
Whitman notes that there is nothing new going on with Aldrich.[pages:339]
Although mentioning his position as editor for Home Journal in 1856, this biography neglects his conritbution to the Saturday Press. This biography leaves a gap, citing then his work with Every Saturday, Boston, beginning in 1870.[pages:43(ill.)]
Winter notes that when Clapp and Howland began the "Saturday Press," on October 19, 1858, Aldrich was hired to do the book reviews. O'Brien was hired at the same time, but Winter states that "Neither of these writers long remained in harness. Aldrich had more congenial opportunities...Aldrich was associated with the paper during only the first three months of its existance" (66-67).
In discussing O'Brien, Winter cites Aldrich's account of their first meeting (76). Aldrich and O'Brien, "applied, almost simultaneously," to be the Aid of General Lander, leader of the New York Seventh Regiment, in April, 1862. Aldrich initially won the appointment, but the letter with his assignment to be delivered to Portsmouth never reached him, so the appointment went to O'Brien. Winter includes "One of Henry Clapp's grim witticisms on that subject: 'Aldrich, I see,' he said, 'has been shot in O'Brien's shoulder.'" Winter qualifies this by stating that "The old cynic did not like either of them" (77).
In discussing the end of the circle at Pfaff's around 1861, Winter cites a letter he received from Aldrich in 1880. Aldrich wrote, "How they have all gone, 'the old familiar faces'! What a crowd of ghosts people that narrow strip of old Bohemian country through which we passed long ago!" Winter continues, "Even then, at the distance of only twenty years, that period of frolic and freedom seemed vague and shadowy" (82-83). Winter includes Aldrich among the list of the group that he gathered with at Pfaff's Cave (88).
In further discussing O'Brien, Winter mentions a letter he received from Aldrich in 1880 in which "Aldrich, in his serio-comic way, mentions facts about O'Brien that help to make more distinct the image of his erratic personality and the story of his wayward career." Winter reprints Aldrich's letter about O'Brien on p.101-102 (100-102). Winter also includes a letter written to Aldrich from O'Brien p. 103 (103).
In remembering his old friends and group, Winter reminisces about Aldrich's demeanor at a "literary festival" for Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Aldrich, that fine genius, 'the frolic and the gentle' (as Wordsworth so happily said of Charles Lamb), was, as ever, demure in his kindly satire and piquant in his spontaneous, playful wit" (124).
Winter also discusses the relationship between Whitman and Aldrich. "But I remember one moment when he contrived to inspire Aldrich with a permanent aversion. The company was numerous, the talk was about poetry. 'Yes, Tom,' said the inspired Whitman, 'I like your tinkles: I like them very well.' Nothing could have denoted more distinctly both complacent egotism and ill-breeding. Tom, I think, never forgot that incident" (140-141). In a contrast to Whitman's definition of "the Poet," Winter reprints Aldrich's poem in which he defines "the Poet" (141).
At the beginning of a discussion of Aldrich's death, Winter reprints some lines from a poem that he assumes to be about Aldrich's wife and the presence of death that appears to be eerily prophetic of his own death. Aldrich died Tuesday, March 19, 1907, at 5:30 in the afternoon. He was over seventy years old. Winter recollects that they had been friends for over fifty-two of these years and remarks that "although our pathways were different, and we could not often meet, the affection between us, that began in our youth, never changed" (132-133).
Aldrich and Winter were both born in 1836 and "entered on the literary life" during the same year, 1854, and their first books were published during the same year - Aldrich's in New York, Winter's in Boston. Winter describes their friendship as unproblematic and cites Aldrich's inscription on his collected works as proof of their mutual affection. Winter states, "An old man, I think, may be glad and proud of such a friendship. Time, care, and trouble tend to deaden the emtions. Affection does not often last for more than half a century." Winter claims that their "acquaintance began in almost a romantic way," in 1854, when Winter was writing occasional miscellaneous articles for "The Boston Transcript." The editor of the paper, Daniel N. Haskell, who encouraged Winter's writing, gave him a book entitled, "Poems, by T.B.A." to review for the paper; "I read it with pleasure and reviewed it with praise." Aldrich was then living and writing in New York, and he received a copy of Winter's review. Aldrich "responded, by publishing, in the New York 'Home Journal,' a poem dedicated to 'W.W.'" Winter wrote him a letter in response and the two men corresponded for several months "in the course of which we explained ourselves to each other, in that strain of ardent, overflowing sentiment which is possible only when life is young, and hearts are fresh, and all the world seems beautiful with hope." In 1855, Aldrich visited the editorial offices of the "Transcript" and the two men were enthusiastically introduced by Haskell. Winter remembers that they went out to dinner at the Revere House that evening, "where the occasion was celebrated, and Aldrich and I became Tom and Will to each other; and so we remained, to the end of the chapter" (133-136).
One set of Winter's recollections of his time in the Bohemian group occurs because it includes Aldrich. Winter recalls that during this time, Aldrich was living at the home of his uncle, Mr. Frost. While there, Aldrich wrote the poems "Babie Bell" and "The Unforgiven" and a draft of Judith (138-139).
Winter recalls that Aldrich grew tired of Bohemia and questioned Winter's commitment to the lifestyle: "A time arrived when Tom grew weary of Bohemia, and I remember we had a serious talk about it. 'Do you mean,' he asked me, 'to cast your lot permanently with those writers? Do you intend to remain with them?' I answered yes. He then told me of his purpose to leave New York, as eventually he did, establishing his residence in Boston, where, by and by, he became editor of 'Every Saturday,' and later of 'The Atlantic Monthly,' and where he had his career, in constantly increasing prosperity and universal respect" (139).
Aldrich married and had twin sons; Stoddard jokingly called him "Two-Baby Aldrich" (139).
Winter claims, "No sweeter lyrical poet has appeared in America. His touch was as delicate as that of Herrick, whom he loved but did not imitate, and his themes are often kindred with those of that rare spirit, -- the Ariel of sentiment, fancy, and poetic whim" (139-140).
Winter reprints a July 25, 1855, letter in which Aldrich recounts his life with his "characteristic touches" (142-143). In another letter, Aldrich discussed his "reverence for Longfellow." Winter reprints this on p.144. Winter mentions that Aldrich is buried near Longfellow in the cemetary in Mount Auburn. Winter notes that Aldrich's last poem as an elegy for Longfellow, written to commemorate his centenary. Winter discusses their correspondence in depth, and states that Aldrich's "published writings exhibit his soul, as the writing of a poet always do. As to the writing of letters: in after years, like the rest of us, he acquired what we call 'worldy wisdom,' and he restrained his feelings; but he never lost them. The child was father to the man; and the man, to the end of his days, was the apostle of beauty and the incarnation of kindness. His character rested upon a basis of prudence, and the conduct of life he was conventional. There was nothing in his nature of the stormy pretel" (142-145).
According to Winter, "hard experience" would most likely have soured Aldrich's disposition and his ability to work; lucky he escaped this fate. Winter notes that in 1856, Aldrich "left mercantile employment, which to him must have been a farce" and became a sub-editor of "The Home Journal" where he claimed to learn "what work is." According to Winter, "Good fortune always attended Tom Aldrich. The death of one of his sons was the only cruel blow of affliction that ever fell upon him, and he never recovered from it" (146).
According to Winter, "His writings reveal a mind that had the privilege of brooding over its conceptions till it found the best means of expressing them" (146-147). "The place of Aldrich in American Literature will be determined by posterity. There can be no doubt that his works will live. The poems that he wrote when under the influence of Tennyson are echoes of the style of that great poet, --the master as well of blank verse as of the lyric form, --and, probably, they will be remembered and esteemed as chiefly echoes. The poems, meantime, that bear the authentic signet of his mind are original, individual, characteristic, and of permanent value. The attributes of them are lovliness of sentiment, tenderness of feeling, a fine, rippling play of subtle suggestion, a dream-like atmosphere, pensive sweetness, and delicious sponteneity of verbal grace" (150-151). "At no time did he become didactic. His poetic sense, in that respect, was unerring. He knew that poetry should not aim to teach, but should glide through the mind as sunbeams glide through the air" (151).
Winter closes, "The writer who can cheer the time in which he lives, who can help the men and women of his generation to bear their burdens patiently and do their duty without wish or expectation of reward, has fulfilled his mission. Such a writer was Thomas Bailey Aldrich. As I think of him I am encouraged to believe, more devoutly than ever, that the ministry of beauty is the most important influence operant upon society, and that it never can fail" (152).
Winter notes that when Curtis was unable to write from the "Easy Chair" for "Harper's" in October 1873, Aldrich filled in for him (254).
Of the poets associated with the Bohemian period, Winter states that Aldrich's name is one among a list of "names that shine, with more or less lustre, in the scroll of American poets, and recurrence to their period affords opportunity for correction of errors concerning it, which have been conspicuously made" (292).
Aldrich is one of the few members of the Bohemian group that Stedman is known to have been acquainted with (293).
Winter reiterates in a later discussion of the failure of "The Saturday Press" that Aldrich was only associated with the paper during its first three months and finds Aldrich's biographer's claim that he "took the failure with a light heart" as "comic," as Aldrich did not, and never had, "any pecuniary investment in it" (295).
Winter presents a selection of Aldrich's selected letters on p. 351-376.[pages:66-67,76,77,82-83,88,100-102,103,124,132-136,137,138-140,140-141,142-152,254,292,293,295,351-376]
He and O'Brien were among A.D. Shattuck's closest friends, and Aldrich was the best man at Shattuck's wedding. Mentioned as being a regular at Pfaff's by Howells in Literary Friends and Aquaintances, a Personal Retrospect of American Authorship. His poem, "At the Cafe," discusses Pfaff's.[pages:1,27, 28, 36, 40, 54, 64-66, 75, 99, 100, 10-130, 166-169, 177, 186, 203, 223, 232, 247-249]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015