Fitz-Greene Halleck was born in Guilford, Connecticut to a family descended from the earliest Pilgrim Fathers. Halleck completed New England schooling at the age of fourteen, after which he served as a clerk to kinsman Andrew Eliot for six years. Eliot sent him on business to New York in 1808, where he met his future employers Jacob Barker and John Jacob Astor. He could join the Connecticut militia and open an evening school for clerk-related matters before returning to the city in 1811 at the age of twenty-one (Wilson).
Halleck “fell in with the literary people of the town and shared their eager interest in the current English output,” later becoming a leading figure in the Knickerbocker school (Boynton 133). To supplement his income, he worked as an accountant for Barker for twenty years, and later for Astor. Halleck met poet Joseph Rodman Drake, who would become a lifelong friend and intimate, in 1813, and the two collaboratively wrote the Croaker Papers for the Evening Post. The satirical verses, which include Halleck’s popular Fanny (1819), poked fun at New York high society and were immensely popular (Hemstreet 119). Halleck wrote “Alnwick Castle” and “Burns” while traveling through Europe in 1822, and his most widely known poem, “Marco Bozzaris,” in 1825. Halleck gained literary fame from these earlier efforts, which accompanied him throughout his life despite his few later writings (“Death of Fitz-Greene Halleck”). Despite being a well-respected author who was praised by Charles Dickins, Halleck once reportedly said, “When I die I shall have no literary reputation to leave behind me. What I have written has been for pastime, not for fame or money” (Walsh 165).
Halleck was amongst “the best known writers who frequented that cozy corner at Pfaff’s” (G. J. M. 9), to which he would often escape despite his “respectable and conservative” demeanor (Lause 79). Despite that Eugene Lalor calls him “one of the less committed Bohemians,” he appears to have had influenced several of the Pfaffians artistically, particularly Thomas Bailey Aldrich and Bayard Taylor (135-6). In a letter to E. C. Stedman regarding his “Prelude,” Aldrich says, “To my thinking that right-hand lower corner of your frontispiece would have been more fitly occupied by Fitz-Greene Halleck, whose 'Burns,’ 'Marco Bozzaris,’ and 'Red Jacket’ are poems which promise to live as long as any three pieces in the Anthology” (Greenslet 215). William Winter recollects that during his early days as a writer in Boston and Cambridge, Halleck was one of the writers with a “hallowed name” who was “never thought of without spontaneous admiration nor mentioned without profound respect” (Old Friends 107). During the time that he was at Pfaff’s, he also was a frequent guest of Daniel Biby’s hotel, one of the many “literary celebrities [that] would congregate to discuss the topics of the day” (591). with “all the writers of the day” (Hemstreet 137-8).
Halleck’s work has been studied for its homosexual themes, leading John W. M. Hallock to draw comparisons between it and the works of Walt Whitman. Hallock suggests that the poet, who never married, was in love with Drake (32). Halleck served as the best man in Drake’s wedding, and wrote of the experience, “[Drake] is perhaps the handsomest man in New York, - a face like an angel, a form like an Apollo; and, as I well knew that his person was the true index of his mind, I felt myself during the ceremony as committing a crime in aiding and assisting such a sacrifice” (Wilson 184). Drake died of consumption at the age of twenty-five, and Halleck memorialized him in “The Death of Joseph Rodman Drake” (1820, which begins with the famous first lines, “Green be the turf above thee” (Hallock 90-92). Hemstreet claims that one may also discern the impact of Drake’s loss in “Marco Bozzaris.” Hemstreet writes, "During forty odd years from that time he continued the gently courteous, witty talker, the dignified life of each gathering he attended. But, as he knew so well, his Muse was sorely wounded when Drake died, and the fuller poetic life that might have been his was buried on the green slope of the Bronx with his friend (124).
Astor would later name Halleck as one of the original trustees to the Astor Library and leave him an annuity of two hundred dollars, allowing him to retire to his hometown of Gilford (Derby 294-5). Halleck died in Gilford at the age of seventy-two, and subsequently a statue of him was commissioned for Central Park at the price of $12,000 (“A Statue to Fitz-Greene Halleck”). The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1877 before a crowd of 10,000, including President Rutherford B. Hayes and his entire cabinet, and remains in Central Park to this day (“Fitz Green Halleck”).
This article is a solicitation towards donations for a statue of Fitz-Greene Halleck. It contains a listing of significant donations thus far with names of the donors.
"The leading figure in the Knickerbocker school was Fitz-Green Halleck, who was born in Connecticut in 1790 but spent his active life in New York. When he came up to the city, at the age of twenty-one, he fell in with the literary people of the town and shared their eager interest in the current English output" (133).
"Halleck [...] was uncomfortably conscious of the prosaic commercial drive of American life and disposed to lament the wane of romance" (134).
"He probably knew little of Emerson, and he certainly disapproved of Whitman" (137).[pages:113, 133-137, 181, 324, 325, 328, 330, 334]
Death of Fitz-Greene Halleck.” Nov. 21, 1867.
Halleck was 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).
Aldrich's volume of poetry, the Ballad of Baby Bell, attracted the attention of Frederick S. Cozzens, who arranged for a meeting between Aldrich and Halleck. Halleck had read the poem and written to Cozzens, telling him that he would like to meet the author. "Aldrich said that Halleck was most delightfully kind and complimentary" (299).
Halleck worked as a a clerk for John Jacob Astor and was also one of Mr. Astor's legatees after his death. Halleck was left "the munificent sum of two hundred dollars per year. It is said, however, that such a sum was left to Mr. Halleck in accordance with a remark once made by him in the presence of Mr. Astor that he could live on two hundred dollars per anum" (294-295).
Halleck's biographer is General James Grant Wilson (542). Frederick Cozzens's "last literary effort was a memorial of Fitz Greene Halleck, which was delivered before and printed by the New York Historical Society a short time previous to his death" (543).
According to Derby, Halleck was one of the many "literary celebrities [that] would congregate to discuss the topics of the day" at Daniel Bixby's hotel at the corner of Broadway and Park Place during the 1850s (591). "Fitz Greene Halleck was a constant guest and was very fond of that part of the city. Every day after breakfast, and again after dinner at the hotel, he would go down to Bowling Green, there to meet his old acquaintances. At that time he was one of the trustees of the Astor Library, and always spoke very kindly of its founder, and of his son, William B. Astor, in the warmest terms of the pleasant relations they held towards each other" (592). At this time, Halleck's permanent address was in Guilford, Conn.[pages:35,156,159,229,250,293-295,313,354,538,542,543,582,584,591-593,623,624,629]
This article consists of a letter to the editor from a personal friend of Fitz-Greene Halleck, the letter is in response to speculation that Halleck is in desperate financial straights and is thought to be insane. The writer assures us this is not true.
This bronze Portrait depicts Poet and essayist Fitz-Greene Halleck(1790-1867).Sculpted by James Wilson Alexander Macdonald(1824-1908), the statue was dedicated in 1877, and is one of the four sculptures in the vicinity that depict literary figures.The Others are Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and William Shakespeare, all of which grace the southern end of Central Park's Mall, alternately known as Literary Walk.
Halleck is mentioned as one of "the best know writers who frequented that cozy corner [Pfaff's]."[pages:9]
Halleck is mentioned as one of the older men Aldrich knew in New York. Greenslet states that it seems Aldrich knew him well during his experiences with "Literary Bohemia" in New York (38). Aldrich later writes to Howells that he would like to write about the New York he knew when he was seventeen or eighteen and Hallack was "still prowling the streets, upon which still rested the shadow of Poe" (192).
In a letter Nov. 15,1900, letter from Mt. Vernon St. to Stedman that discusses Stedman's recent critical work about poetry called the "Prelude," Aldrich says: "To my thinking that right-hand lower corner of your frontispiece would have been more fitly occupied by Fitz-Green Hallack, whose 'Burns,' 'Marco Bozzaris,' and 'Red Jacket' are poems which promise to live as long as any three pieces in the Anthology" (215).[pages:38,192,215]
This text identifies the following pseudonym: Croaker & Co. (26).[pages:26]
In his early days in New York, Halleck was a book-keeper for Jacob Barker, whose warehouse still exists at the time of Hemstreet's writing. He was originally from Guilford, Conn. Hallack had already written poetry and some "stray verse" when he met Paulding and Drake. The men would meet at Halleck's rooms on Greenwich Street. Hemstreet discusses Halleck's friendship with these writers and the early contacts they made in New York (115-7).
As Drake was experiencing early success, Hemstreet states that "he and Halleck hit upon the idea of the 'Croaker Papers,' a series of satires in verse, printed in the Evening Post, in which the poets sailed into the public characters of the day" (119). Hemstreet mentions that Halleck read Fanny to Drake at his home in Park Row, and made some of Drake's editorial corrections before publishing the work (119-120). Hemstreet also discusses Drake's death in 1820 of consumption and it's impact upon Halleck; Hemstreet reprints the lines of verse Halleck wrote for his friend that were engraved on his tombstone (121-2).
Hemstreet mentions that Halleck outlived Drake by many years. He gave up book-keeping and worked as the confidential manager of the affairs of John Jacob Astor (122-123).
At Morris House, Halleck wrote Marco Bozzaris, according to Hemstreet, "his most widely known poem." Hemstreet also claims that one is able to discern sorry over Drake's loss in the poem. Hemstreet states, "During forty odd years from that time he continued the gently courteous, witty talker, the dignified life of each gathering he attended. But, as he knew so well, his Muse was sorely wounded when Drake died, and the fuller poetic life that might have been his was buried on the green slope of the Bronx with his friend (124).
Hemstreet mentions that he "gathered around" Cooper in the "Bread-and-Cheese Club" with Bryant, Percival, Professor Renwick, Dr. J.W. Francis, "and all the writers of the day" in Washington Hall (132). Halleck was also known to frequent Windust's with Edmund Kean, the Wallacks, Harry Placide, Cooper, Jack Scott, Mitchell, Brown, Junius Brutus Booth, Willis, and Morris (137-8).
Halleck is also mentioned as a mourner for the "Mad Poet" (142).[pages:100-n/a(ill),103,115-117,119-120, 121-124,132, 137-138,142]
Lalor calls him "one of the less committed Bohemians." Lalor quotes his "negative reaction" Whitman in his observation "that Walt Whitman ought to write his 'yawps' seated on an elephant in order to add to their strength and heaviness." Lalor also notes that Halleck did not consider Whitman's work to be poetry (135).[pages:135,136]
The "respectable and conservative" Fitz-Greene Halleck would escape his rural Connecticut home as often as he could for a "'night with the bohemians at Pfaff's'" (79).
Halleck made his living as an accommodating clerk to John Jacob Astor (88).[pages:79, 88]
Levin quotes Winter's remarks on the "day jobs" of several notable nineteenth century writers, including Halleck's work as an accountant (88).[pages:88]
A note reports that Halleck's "Marco Boggaris" has been translated into Greek by Mr. Canale (2).[pages:2]
Fitz-Greene Halleck is described as "cracking jokes" at the "dripping round-table" at Pfaff's.[pages:5]
"When Fitz-Greene Halleck came up from the state of Connecticut once or twice in the year, it was his wont to call in and see the 'young fellows,' as he called us" (165).
"He said to us, 'When I die I shall have no literary reputation to leave behind me. What I have written has been for pastime, not for fame or money'" (165).[pages:164-166]
In 1849 John Jacob Astor gave Halleck an annuit of forty pounds a year, on which Halleck retired with his unmarried sister to his native town. During this period, Halleck composed many poems, including "Connecticut" and "Young America."[pages:46-48, 46(ill.)]
Winter remarks that Halleck's "Marco Bozzaris" is a "type of ardent poetic emotion" (22).
In discussing how few writers can make a full-time career out of his literary pursuits, Winter mentions that Halleck was an accountant (80-81).
Winter recollects that during his early days as a writer in Boston and Cambridge, Halleck was one of the writers with a "hallowed name," "never thought of without spontaneous admiration nor mentioned without profound respect" (107).
Around 1846, Halleck was one of the "reigning poets" of the New England literary community (264). When discussing "The Literati" identified by Poe and the ties and animosties that existed among them, Winter recalls the days when Halleck was living and writing. Winter also remembers having seen him during those days (296).[pages:22,80-81,107,264,296]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015