Born in Connecticut, Stedman’s merchant father died leaving the small child in the care of his mother, maternal grandfather, and lawyer uncle. Stedman’s childhood passed between his grandfather’s New Jersey farm and his uncle’s Connecticut residence. Much of Stedman’s literary education likely came from his mother, who herself was an author of both verse and essay. Stedman’s juvenilia consists of poetry inspired by the Romantics and Tennyson. He attended Yale University but was expelled after a youthful indiscretion. During this period he got married and began editing The Norwich Tribune and then the Mountain County Herald, after which he moved to New York and made a brief foray into the clock-making business (E. Bates "Stedman").
Around 1859, Stedman's poetry became popular and he made the acquaintance of several members of the Pfaff's coterie: travel writer Bayard Taylor, editor Richard Henry Stoddard, novelist and poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich, theater critic William Winter, and Walt Whitman. Stedman maintained a close friendship with Richard Henry Stoddard and his wife, Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard, throughout his life. When Richard Stoddard died in 1903, Stedman had spent the last year living with and helping care for the late author (“Richard Henry Stoddard,” Outlook, 217). Along with Henry Clapp and Edward Howland, Stedman founded the Saturday Press in 1858 (T. Miller 26). He joined the staff of the New York World in 1860. He was less than impressed with his job as a journalist. At one point he remarked that being a newspaper reporter "is a shameful to earn a living" (qtd. in L. Starr 6). At the outbreak of the Civil War, he became a war correspondent, but his experiences during the war did not change his opinion of newspaper journalism, and he quit in 1863.
He returned to New York City and embarked upon a career in the banking industry. He eventually opened his own brokerage firm and remained active in this occupation (despite the disapproval of the Bohemian crowd) all his life. He did not, however, give up his writing career; he published in a variety of venues, including Vanity Fair, Putnam's, Harper's, Scribner's, and the Atlantic Monthly. Stedman also contributed poems or "interesting literary essays" to the New York Independent and the North American Review (J. Derby 531). Stedman later helped craft the canon of British and American literature by editing several large literary anthologies. He devoted a full thirteen pages to Walt Whitman in his Library of American Literature (all other writers received no more than three pages) (G. Allen 534). He also wrote introductions for reprinted editions of Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard's work (J. Barry 184). Away from the publishing world, Stedman founded the Authors' Club and headed the American Copyright League and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Reflecting on their friendship, William Dean Howells stated that, in Stedman, "I found the quality of Boston, the honor and passion of literature, and not merely a pose of the literary life; and the world knows without my telling how true he has been to his ideal of it. His earthly mission then was to write letters from Washington for the New York World, which started in life as a good young evening paper, with a decided religious tone, so that the Saturday Press could call it the Night-blooming Serious" ("First Impressions" 70-71).
In 1877, Stedman visited Jersey City and renewed his acquaintance with Walt Whitman, whom he had met years earlier at Pfaff's. Gay Allen notes that after this visit Stedman "became an admirer and defender of the poet - though not always sufficiently ardent to satisfy him during his last years" (479). In the fall of 1880, Stedman wrote one the most important articles published about Whitman for Scribner's Magazine. Stedman attempted to "praise [Whitman] judiciously," but he could not avoid criticizing Whitman's use of sex and sexual imagery. Whitman seems to have been divided in his reaction, but never fully trusted Stedman afterward (490). Percy Boynton claims that in Stedman's critical work on Whitman "[h]e wrote no single essay which better demonstrated his wisdom, his sanity, and his charming suavity of mind and manner than his discussion of Walt Whitman. Although he felt a native distaste for much of Whitman's writing and for the way most of it was done, he succeeded in applying a fair mode of criticism, and he did it in the manner of an artist and not as a counsel for the plaintiff. Instead of beginning with cleverness and ending with truculence Stedman did himself the honor of coming out magnanimously with '...there is something of the Greek in Whitman, and his lovers call him Homeric, but to me he shall be our old American Hesiod, teaching us works and days'" (334).
The Booths named both Stedman and his wife among those assembled the first time they visited the Stoddards. "Next came Mr. Edmund Clarence Stedman, argumentative, alert, debonair. Mrs. Stedman was sketched in black and white, neutral and colorless" (17).
According to Mrs. Aldrich, the same year and month that Aldrich took over the editorship of the "Atlantic Monthly" from Howells, Oscar Wilde arrived in Boston and made a "sensation." Of Wilde, Stedman wrote to Aldrich, "This Philistine town [New York] is making a fool of itself over Oscar Wilde, who is lecturing on Art Subjects, appearing in public in extraordinary dress -- a loose shirt with a turn-down collar, a flowing tie of uncommon shade, velvet coat, knee breetches -- and often he is seen in public carrying a lily, or a sunflower, in his hand. He has brought hundreds of letters of introduction" (246).[pages:17,222-224,246]
Letter from Aldrich is addressed to him.
Stedman is listed as one of the "literary customers" at Pfaff's (229). Allen writes that in 1877, Stedman visited Whitman in June, in Jersey City, when George W. Waters was painting his portrait.
Stedman is listed among the "active and honorary" pallbearers at Whitman's funeral (594 n.153).[pages:229,479,490,534,594n153]
He complained of hostility towards New York writers by the Atlantic Monthly.[pages:298, 300]
Stedman wrote the introductions to Mrs. Stoddard's novels when they were re-published (184).
Barry paraphrases Stedman's thoughts about competition between periodicals: "Mr. Stedman maintains, however, that each new periodical of genuine merit creates its own constituency without necessarily robbing its predecessors of any of theirs; so the multiplicity of our periodicals may, after all, be an unmixed blessing" (185).[pages:184,185]
Stedman's poetry in Poems:Lyric and Idyllic was also reviewed in the New York Times in the column "New Publications: The New Poets" written by either William or John Swinton in which the third edition of Leaves of Grass was reviewed poorly. Stedman's work was given notably less discussion but was also found "lacking" (255).[pages:255]
"[...] 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'" (328).
Boynton comments on Stedman's analysis of Whitman's work (334).
Stedman's works "'Bohemia' and 'Pan in Wall Street,' though composed in this same general period, are far more sober, deliberate, and genuinely poetical. In both Stedman dealt with the romantic rather than with the ridiculous or contemptible in city life" (335).[pages:135, 279, 324, 329, 331-336,385,399,453]
Stedman is quoted in Elizabeth Stoddard's obituary as having styled the Stoddards as "the most picturesque couple in America" (9).[pages:9]
Derby first met Stedman forty years prior to the writing of his book, when Stedman was seven years old. This meeting occured while Stedman and his widowed mother were on vacation; she was a poet, and became "well and favorably known in literary circles" (530). Derby notes that twenty years later, in 1860, "young Stedman had begun to make his mark in literature, and now, a quarter of a century later still, he stands as is well-known in the front rank of American men of letters" (530). Accoriding to Derby, Stedman comes from a long line of poets and men of letters. He attended Yale College in 1849, and was a member of "the famous class of 1853" (530). Stedman is also listed among the "distinguished people of literary tastes" whom he met at the Cary sisters' home in the 1850s (250). He dedicated his 1884 "collective edition" of his poetry to his mother, Elizabeth Clementine Kinney: "This Collection is Affectionately and Reverently Dedicated to my Myother, In Gratitude for Whatsoever I Inherit of Her Own Sweet Gift of Song" (529).
Stedman began newspaper work in 1852, in Norwich, Conn. After this, he edited the Herald in Winsted, Conn. He moved to New York in 1855, where he became a member of the Tribune staff in 1859, and later joined the editorial staff of the New York World. He became the paper's war correspondent from 1861 to 1863; "His description in that paper of the battle of Bull Run, was considered, at the time, the most graphic account given of that disastrous route of the Union army" (531).
Derby writes that Stedman's most recent publication venues have been Vanity Fair, Putnam's, Harper's, Scribner's, and the Atlantic Monthlies. Stedman also contributed poems or "interesting literary essays" to the New York Independent and North American Review (531).
Derby writes that Stedman's goal when arriving in New York was to support himself by living a literary life. His family scraped by with his income from journalistic work, however, until 1859, "when he awoke one morning to find himself famous as the author of the 'Diamond Wedding,' a poem which he contributed to the New York Tribune (531-532). According to Derby, this poem was written without the thought of publication, but when it was published in the Tribune, it was well-liked a reprinted in several of the city's papers and in several editions of the Tribune. "The poet looked on it as a good joke at the time, as he considered it an inferior order of poetry, nothing more than a bright piece of society verse. It was copied throughout American and Europe, and republished in book-form by G.W. Carelton & Co." (532). Derby claims that part of the poem's popularity circles around "the extraordinary marriage of the rich Cuban Oviedo to the beautiful Miss Bartlett." The bride's father, a Lieutennant Bartlett of the Navy, "became very angry about the poem, because of all the sensation it caused in the fashionable world." Bartlett challenged Stedman to a duel, which Stedman accepted. Bartlett backed out, however, "saying that he had come to the conclusin that Stedman's family was not equal to his in the social world" (532). Derby reprints extracts from the "Diamond Wedding on p. 532-533 to illustrate the cause of the controversy and interest in the poem. Later, Derby writes, Stedman met with the widowed Mrs. Oviedo, who was a fan of his work and "had made up her mind that he would learn some time that she was not so foolish a woman she had been when a girl" (534). A friendship formed between the poet, his wife, and the widow (also a published poet) (534).
Derby also writes that during the Civil War, there was one point during which Stedman was "in confidential relations with the government" (534).
Derby lists Stedman's "hits" as the "Ballad of Lager Bier," "How old Brown took Harper's Ferry" (both published in a book by Scribner titled "The Tribune Lyrics) (535). The second poem was written and published during the trial of Brown, and attracted a lot of attention (535). According the Derby, this poem also prompted the poet's friendship with Bayard Taylor, who would sometimes read it to audiences during his lectures. The two men met when Taylor returned to New York; Stedman asked Taylor about Stoddard, and Taylor introduced them, beginning their life-long friendships (535). Derby writes that both Stedman and Stoddard wrote prose and poetic tributes to Taylor after his death (535).
At the time of his fame for his ballad "How old Brown took Harper's Ferry," Stedman was appointed to the reporting staff of the New York Tribune under Charles A. Dana (535). His first assignment was "the interesting account of the death of Washington Irving"; this was the only time Stedman ever saw Irving (536).
Stedman gave up journalism a few years later and attempted to devote himself to literature. At that time, this line of work did not pay. "He had saved a thousand dollars with which to begin operations in Wall Street, where he operated and became a popular and successful banker. Out of the one thousand dollars invested he soon made from ten to twelve thousand dollars. Mr. Stedman has often been criticised for being in Wall Street. He has been there solely for the purpose of having Sundays and evenings and summer vacations for poetry and critical literary work, which time he has studiously utilized" (536). According to Derby, Mr. Stedman has kept his Wall Street operations small, earning an income sufficient to make his literary pursuits possible. Derby notes that Stedman makes a "handsome" salary from the copyrights of his poetry, which is quite popular. Derby also writes that "His 'Victorian Poets' shows him to be a master critic as well as a born poet." Stedman is also asked on a regular basis to contribute poems to magazines and newspapers, for which he can name his own price. Derby also writes of Stedman's forthcoming poetry to be published by Harper & Brothers around Christmas (536). According to Derby, the $50 a piece that Stedman charged for the two poems he provided was lower than the editor expected (537). Derby also speaks of Stedman's forthcoming "Poetry in America," "a companion volume to his 'Victorian Poets,' which has been received with such great favor by the most eminent critics of this country and Europe" (537).
Derby also writes that Stedman and Ellen Mackay Hutchinson are compiling and editing "another most important literary exercise" in the form of "a library of American literature from the earliest settlement to the present time." According to Derby, this "library" is comiled "in ten elegant large octavo volumes of over five hundred pages each, illustrated with portraits of distinguished authors. A work of this kind is urgently called for by the literary intelligence of the country, and in the competant hands of its accomplished editors, a work of great value may be expected" (537).
Derby reprints Stedman's poetic tribute to Greeley p.138-140. Stedman, Taylor, and Stoddard were among the poets who wrote and read original poems at the funeral of William Cullen Bryant (169).[pages:138,169,241-242,250,526,529,530-37,603]
Donaldson describes Stedman as a friend, supporter, and admirer of Whitman and claims his name is "a synonym for elegance, purity of mind, and thorough cultivation, and the possession of the grace of harmonious and euphonious poetic diction" (213).
Donaldson also includes a letter from Stedman to Whitman (213-4).[pages:198,199,213-214,221]
Stedman in mentioned as a writer Whitman met at Pfaff's.[pages:61]
Whitman befriended Stedman while at Pfaff's.
Stedman is mentioned as one of the "men of distinct talent" who patronized Pfaff's beer cellar (1).[pages:1]
A member of Aldrich's "nearer circle of contemporaries" during his experience in the "Literary Bohemia" in New York (38).
Greenslet notes, "The three young men of the group that with Aldrich surivived the century, Stedman, Stoddard, and Mr. Winter, writers all of poetry and prose, have become familiar names. It is perhaps something more than a coincidence that all four were New England Boys" (38-9).
Greenslet reprints letters from Aldrich to Stedman on pp. 17,19-20,88-89,101-2,110,127-8, 133-134,138-40, 145-6,152, 154-7, 171-2, 196-7,213-5,234-5[pages:17,19-20,38-39,43,88-89,101-102,110,127-8,133-134-138-140,145-146.152,154-7,171-172,196-197,213-215,234-235]
Gunn details a visit from Stedman, indicating that his description of the Pfaff's crowd was too favorable: "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. Stayed till 11. Stedman has just been writing a description of the Pfaff crowd in a letter to a Chicago paper which they assume much indignation at. He mentioned them only too favorably, to my thinking, conceding power of repartee and conversation to Clapp who is only more dogmatic than he is shallow" (155-56).
Gunn provides more detail on Stedman: "Joined by Stedman, who had came down like us on Saturday, but by the Red Bank boat. With him, Baldwin and Boweryem for a morning's ramble into the adjacent wood and by the little stream, talks about the Phalansterians, Boweryem's 'duel', 'Momus', Pfaff's 'Bohemians' and things in general. At dinner introduced to Stedman's wife. Very nice-looking, brown hair, no unpleasant Yankeeisms in her speech, as I think. Pretty name, too – Laura. She, with her children, a sturdy boy of 3 and a baby; has left the Unitary Home to reside here for the summer, her husband coming down from the city once a fortnight. With such a wife, I should be hardly content to be pent in the hot city, and away from her pleasant face and the green trees. He has the post of 'First Reporter' on the 'Tribune', is a good fellow, rather opinionative [sic], short in stature, with a large, high-bridged nose, eyes a little too near together, otherwise good-looking. He admires Tennyson most of all poets, as his writings indicate, would like to travel, to reside in Italy, as his parents do, affects no universal patriotism, but a special regard for New England, his birthplace, praises old England, but exhibits the usual Yankee prejudice against her now and then, is apt to contradict to express himself too incisively not to, create enemies. He dislikes the Clapp clique, talks curt condemnation of Doestickism and has pitched into Fanny Fern in print, being provoked to it by a bit of her literary smut [Being himself a seducer, adulterer and libertine.]. This when he edited a country newspaper; of course she responded. He had a project during the John Brown row of seizing Governor Wise of Virginia and bringing him secretly to New York, confining him in a cellar and holding his life as a hostage for the safety of Osawattomie's. Stedman's ballad on the subject of Brown's raid is a very fine one; it brought him eulogism from Elizabeth Barret Browning at Florence. She knows his parents, he says. In the afternoon Boweryem and I went to Sugar Loaf hill, an elevation commanding a good view of the adjoining country" (213-15).
Gunn mentions Stedman and his affiliation with Thomas Mapleson when describing the journey back to New York: "Breakfast with Boweryem, Warren, Stedman and gray-haired Englishman. (He had been in Australia and sunk most of his money in some French communistic experiment, so Boweryem told me.) Good-bye to the Phalanx. A cold ride in the stage, a brief railroad journey, then by steamer to New York. The vessel rolled so that it made little Boweryem rather ill; Stedman and I enjoyed it. I find out he knew, pretty intimately, Thomas Mapleson, brother to the scoundrel who married my aunt Annie. This Thomas was an intimate of Porter of the 'Spirit of the Times', of Richards, Herbert ('Frank Forrester') and spreed and squandered with them, finally dying in a cellar, kept by a negress, Stedman was a sort of college chum of this Mapleson's. At New York again" (217).[pages:155-156, 213-215, 217]
Gunn learns from Boweryem's letter that Stedman has left the Tribune, "In doors most of the fore and afternoon, writing – the last fifteen pages and letters to Morris, Boweryem, and a note to Lotty, in answer to one of hers, arrived by today's mail, inclosed in Boweryem's. Lotty and "Jule" are at Bleecker Street, occupying the back attic, adjoining that opposite to mine: they propose going to the Phalanx with Boweryem, from Wednesday till Monday. Boweryem writes that Stedman has left the Tribune for the evening editorship of "the World" (140).
Stedman tells Gunn in a note to meet him at the World Office, "To the World Office in accordance with a note from Stedman and saw him. A prospect of a reporter's berth, to commence at $16 weekly. Going down stairs met Meyers, man who used to know me in Picayune days, before I went to England, who edited paper out west, I think at Chicago, who I met a month or two ago, crossing the Park, who is now "on" the World at $20, a week.[A fib of his telling. He only got $12.] Up town, sent speciment work to Stedman by Boweryem, wrote and did [phonography] the rest of the evening" (196).
Gunn receives another request to meet at the World Office, "To the "World" office in accordance with a note from Stedman. He wanted me to come in the afternoon to see Marble" (204).
Gunn describes Marble and makes a comment about business, "Marble is my "World" acquaintance on the Great Eastern, a gentlemanly fellow. It appeared Stedman was rather too fast in engaging me, but the business is only delayed temporarily" (205).[pages:140, 196, 204, 205]
Gunn says that Stedman was suspicious about his article, "But half my article in paper, the rest probably crowded out, though praised. Stedman suspicious about it" (57).
Gunn says that Stedman filled him in on the library sale, "Stedman called in the evening, just as I was turning out, to report the Academy of Medecine and the Burton library-sale. He had dropped in at the latter and told me particulars, sparing me that visit. Left him in Boweryem's room with its occupant and Stockton, went to Academy, then down Waverly Place (how I longed for half an hour's drop in at 745, to see a few kind faces, into omnibus and so to the dreary office down town" (61).
Gunn describes his visit to Stedmans, "In the evening to 14th street, visiting Stedman. He wasn't at home for half an hour, during which I conversed with his pleasant wife, their child lying sleeping on the bed. Stedman came uptown anon and I stayed till past 11. I think he is a trifle autocratic in his connubial relations; he spoke of his being "very strict" anent his wife's proceedings in the sanatory way, during her temporary absence, in a tone I didn't sympathize with. It suggested the old superstition of the woman the inferior animal. I must sketch Stedman at length one of these days" (149-150).
Gunn insinuates that Stedman wanted a part in the "Century", "almost entirely about McElrath's resuming the "Century," getting it for nothing from Gibbons and about Stockton finding employment thereon, to the dissatisfaction of Stedman who was greedy of having his finger in the pie" (183).[pages:57, 61, 149-150, 183]
Boweryem informs Gunn of a proposition of Stedman to cover up his infidelity: "Letters from Boweryem and Haney, the former relating a certain proposition of Stedman's to him, 'something of importance to himself: He told me he must move, his wife could not get along with a young lady, daughter of the boarding house keeper and that he should consequently get a place for her (his wife) and the children to board in. For himself, he was in want of a room near Broadway – would I find him one? I named a building where furnished rooms are to be had. Well – that was not exactly what he wanted – or rather not all he wanted of me. He would pay the rent; would I occupy it? I could not see his meaning. Well, the fact was, a landlady finding a room occupied only occasionally might suspect – Oh! said I, what do you want it for. To write or what else? Well he would not want exclusive possession of the place – once or perhaps twice a week all night – giving me due notice. Did I not comprehend? At other times I might have it rent free'. Boweryem did comprehend, and rejected the honorable office of pimp, remonstrating with the proposer in a manner that did the little man honor. 'You complain of straitened means', he said, 'you show me your list of debts, yet here you are entering upon a course of intrigue that will sooner or later wreck you, disgrace you, blast the happiness of your good, loving wife, break her heart and ruin your children'. Stedman 'faltered, laughed deceitfully and rallied me on my strait-laced morality'. Boweryem left him indignant and disgusted, 'almost hysterical' at the baseness of the proposition, and 'solemnly pledges himself to exact retribution' on the adulterer; adding, 'In the dreadful trouble that his impending over that good lady (Mrs. Stedman) I will, please God, constitute myself her nearest friend and my testimony shall crush him in the proper time and place'. The girl in question is a Miss Anna Dunn, 'a type of the smart young American lady, who writes, argues, plays the piano and coquets with more than average ability' (89-91).
Gunn details a letter he wrote to Boweryem, giving him advice on Stedman's proposition: "Downtown secretly, as usual, through the rain, the puddles and the black byestreets, [sic] anon returning, in the sitting room of the hotel amid the loungers commenced a letter to Boweryem, in which I gave him the best advice I could relative to Stedman's proposition. I told him to be prepared for any mischief that Stedman could do him in any case, for the refusal to be his accomplice would incite suspicion and dislike, that nevertheless if he (Boweryem) were willing to brave this and hopeful of helping the injured wife – with a reasonable chance of effecting it – to do so, as individually I believed in helping Providence by hunting down scoundrels. When I last visited Stedman, I remember he proffered me an introduction to this Miss Dunn, commending her as an eligible wife for me! I always distrusted the fellow's masterful ways, and suspected that he bullied his fair, kindly, innocent wife" (92-93).
Gunn describes Stedman's affair: "Stedman has sent his wife to the wintry Phalanx on plea of economy, as his and other of the World's salaries have been reduced. His mistress comes to see him at the office; they rendezvous at the foot of the stairs; the shameful intimacy is joked about by Bangs and young McElrath (not my Lake Superior acquaintance) Stedman being vain of it" (116).
Gunn provides an update on Stedman's affair: "To Frank Leslie's, saw him; to the 'World' Office, saw Stedman, who bragged of his desire to whip South Carolinians and wasn't pleased at my suggesting that did he choose to [word crossed out] seek the chance he'd find plenty who'd oblige him to his heart's content. The adultery business has been temporarily quashed, or at least pushed into privacy, by Weston's letter; for the girl doesn't haunt the staircase of the pious newspaper office. The poor wife and her two children still in Jersey" (178-179).
"Stedman, whom I met this afternoon, told me of a story appearing in a New Haven paper, asserting a visit of mine, as a quasispy, to Fort Sumter, on pretext of sketching. It evidently originated in consequence of the enterprize of Cook the photographer" (192).
Gunn records a review of Stedman's poetry: "Critique of the London Athenaeum on Stedman's Poetry. It made him very savage. (I remember his putting up and directing a pile of the volumes, to London journals.) [newspaper clipping] Poems, Lyrical and Idyllic. By Edmund Clarence Stedman. (Scribner.)–Here is another collection of verse born on the other side of the Atlantic, the writer of which is still, we apprehend, in the Debateable Land. It would be hard to predicate whether he shall issue thence into Eden or into stormy Arabia,–into the warmth and happiness of fame or the arid and painful desert of neglect. Mr. Stedman's Preface assures us that he has taken pains with his poetry,and the pages bear out the Preface" (211).[pages:89-91, 92-93, 116, 178-179, 192, 211]
Gunn describes a conversation he had with Stedman, "To the "Century" office, a talk with Stockton, then to the "World," talking with Conant, Stedman and a third person. Stedman attempting his wanted masterful habit of putting one into the witness-box and cross-examining a la Jaggers, I on the Secession business, I pitched-in, when he became quite affectionate, wrote down his address and invited me to visit him!" (11).
Gunn mentions Briggs and Stedman when documenting a talk about the Civil War between Thomas Dunn English and Smith, "Indeed the blotchfaced old hack wants a berth, and bellows partisanship in consequence. I wish such as he and Stedman were obliged to demonstrate their anti-Southern cackle in face of a few Carolinian rifles, levelled [sic] by such lads as honest Dan Miller's company! There are no bigger curs extant than these venal traders" (100).
Gunn expressses his views of Stedman, "An item about Stedman: Boweryem went the other night to a musical evening at the house of Phillips, of the "Post," and met there Miss Anna Dunn and her mother, the latter of whom behaved frigidly to the little man, and the former of whom told him, with latent triumph, that the Stedmans were going to board with them on Staten Island during the summer. And Warren of the "Phalanx," meeting Boweryem informed him that the wretched intimacy between Stedman and this woman is cackled about in the vicinity. The fellow came down from his wife one morning with the remark that it was astonishing how obstinate women were in adhering to some impressions, and when she appeared, she had evidently been crying, wanted to know how she could send a letter to him, and presently set off to New York after the scoundrel. He had been bullying her into acquiescence with his shameful resolve to live in the same house with his strumpet and the weak, affectionate, foolish wife succumbed to him! He is now in Washington; I suppose trying to beg or bully himself into office. Throughout the recent excitement he has been ultra-belligerent in talk, burning to head a regiment to march against the South; now, when innumerable really patriotic fellows are leaving their callings and volunteering, will the author of the ballad of Old Brown go? I trow not. If you asked him he would say, If it were not for wife and family – when it would be a fair retort to tell him that the best proof of his affection for them would be going off and getting shot" (101-103).[pages:11, 100, 101-103]
Gunn writes about the actions of poetry writers, "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).
Gunn mentions that Stedman complains about his pay, "The Tribune is to be reduced in size. Stedman complains that the World underpays him wretchedly" (176).[pages:21-22, 176]
Gunn details an encounter with Stedman on the street, "Hays and the 73rd Penn, which regiment we set off to visit together, meeting Brigham by the way, and being simultaneously hailed on one side of the street by Skilton and on the other by Stedman. The latter had just come on from Washington to "do up" the recent attle [sic] for the World, he beckoned me across the muddy street and invented a few frivolous inquiries, ending in a request for a cigar or a light for one – I for- get which. Dropped him and with Hall, explored the way to the camping-ground of the 38th N. Y." (213).[pages:213]
Gunn describes Steman's appearance: "Apropos of another humbug whom I once had some faith in, Boweryem and Stedman t'other day, came on from Washington, on a visit. He was got up tremendously, with his hair and whiskers curled" (7).
Gunn details Steman's marriage, his wife, and his wife's affair: "Stedman appeared, transitorilly, and his wife was living there. They 'didn't agree' as everybody knew. The popular impression was that he had contracted a foolish, hasty marriage; 'been caught by her pretty face' as Mrs L. expressed it, and then discovered no intellect, or congeniality of soul. So the little beast (of course I mean Stedman) noises it abroad. He is 'very conceited' and gives himself great airs as an 'editor of the World' - being but Washington correspondent. And, I'm a bit sorry to suppose that the evil example of the noisome little egotist has been followed by the bullied and neglected wife. Her reputation has suffered; she is said to be unchaste. A Mr Wallis or Wallace [Query Ellis, Stedman's partner in certain stockjobbings and], a young lawyer, appears over-intimate with her, 'and last year' quoth Mrs L. 'it was George Arnold. She had a very quiet way with her', but Mrs L. evidently thought her 'sly'. 'The strangest thing was that Mr Stedman knew, and was very friendly with Mr Wallis, &c &c.' I believe the little beast would connive at any infamy if it subserved his own damnable selfishness. If appearances mean anything, his wife was as good as she was loveable when I first knew the couple. She believed in the little sweep, obeyed him, was bullied and browbeaten by him. If his usage of her, his sentimental whorings and others, have produced this result, on his head and heart be two thirds of the sin and damnation. I shall grow to believe in innate depravity, soon" (10-11).
Gunn documents a conversation about Stedman" "Talking incidentally of Stedman, when the others had retired; 'Isn't he something in the Free Love way?' asked Quigg, 'When I was at his house in Washington, he asked me, in the presence of his wife to take off (or change) my trousers. I didn't do it. And she crossing her foot on her knee to lace her boot, showed the whole of her leg as if she didn't care a bit about my seeing it'. I told Quigg I had met his lady-correspondent, Mrs Winslow. He said she was an out-and-out Secessionist, and a fool, or something like it and that he believed she was now living at the Planter's Hotel with her husband" (48).[pages:7, 10-11, 48]
Gunn compares B. Hills to Stedman: "And going into the Southern restaurant met B. Hills at the door, who supping with me, stated that he and his New York namesake would henceforth conduct the Delta. (The N.Y. Hills is worthy of his close friendship (?) with Stedman, resembling him equally in greed and incontinence)" (57).[pages:57]
Hahn says he was a regular.[pages:20]
Mentioned as being among the assembled group at Pfaff's when Howells visited during his first New York trip (218).
Hemstreet calls him a "poet and financier." His offices were located on Broad Street, close to Wall Street (233).[pages:218,233,252]
Howells claimed that to be published in the Saturday Press was to be in his "company" (63).
Howells also mentions that he and Stedman shared their recollections of this time period before the publication of Howells' piece (70).
Howells states that in Stedman "I found the quality of Boston, the honor and passion of literature, and not merely a pose of the literary life; and the world knows without my telling how true he has been to his ideal of it. His earthly mission then was to write letters from Washington for the New York World, which started in life as a good young evening paper, with a decided religious tone, so that the Saturday Press could call it the Night-blooming Serious" (70-71).
Howells remarks on Stedman's skill and talent at being a Washington correspondent. Howells also mentions that Stedman later obtained a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and went into the field of business. Howells says that the career change has allowed Stedman to "mean something more single in literature than many more singly devoted to it" (71). Howells mentions that he and another writer used to discuss Stedman's work and "always decided that Stedman had the best of it in being able to earn his living in a sort so alien to literature that he could come to it unjaded, and with a gust unspoiled by kindred savors. But no man shapes his own life, and I dare say Stedman may have all the time been envying us our tripods from his high place in the Stock Exchange. What is certain is that he has come to stand for literature and to embody New York in it as no one else does. In a community which seems never to have had a conscious relation to letters, he has kept the faith with dignity and fought the fight with constant courage. Scholar and poet at once, he has spoken to his generation with authority which we can forget only in the charm which makes us forget everything else" (71).
Howells discusses meeting Stedman before either experienced any fame and how they would share writing with one another. It seems Stedman would advise Howells on publication venues (71).
Howells also discusses Stedman's "worldliness" and his appearance when they first met (72).[pages:63,70-72,74(ill.)]
The obituary identifies him as one of the "Knights of the Round Table" of the "lions of Bohemia."[pages:2]
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]
Lalor places him in "the 'genteel' circle" along with Stoddard, Taylor and Aldrich in contrast to the rowdy Bohemians.[pages:15,22,23,47]
Stedman was part of a group of men who tormented Whitman over his Leaves of Grass (53).
A former Yale student, Stedman worked on the edges of brilliant New England literary circles before coming to New York in 1856 (79).
Stedman was described as "'a clever writer and somewhat of a Reformer, [who] occupied a large office in the Treasury Department'" (102).
After working as a war correspondent, Stedman joined the wartime civil service in Washington. This was a prelude to his abandonment of journalism for a seat on the stock exchange (112).[pages:53, 79, 102, 110, 112]
Stedman 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). Levin also looks to Stansell's highlighting of Stemdan's claims that higher pay for literary and journalistic work would have made Bohemia and a Bohemain life necessary; he largely claims that many of them would have turned "respectable" if they had had the means (87).[pages:21,87-88]
A member of Clapp's "cabinet" in the "Kingdom of Bohemia" and at the Saturday Press. The article describes his current whereabous as follows: "Stedman, lately withdrawn from the prosaic arena of Wall Street, writes introspective verse, and holds solemn communion with departed magnates of the literary world."[pages:192]
One of the founders of the Saturday Press. About the new publication, he wrote: "The paper was usually hard up, and Mr. Clapp took in several business partners, one after the other. When he got what he called 'fresh blood,' he used to divide it up among the boys" (26).
When Clapp committed himself to the New York City Asylum on Wards Island in 1874, he wrote to E. C. Clarence about his motivation, which was to "get cleansed in the body . . . and clothed in my right mind" (39).
In a letter from William Winter to Stedman, dated May 1, 1863, Winter describes his social isolation: "I am, as I ever was, something of a black sheep and none of our friends care to acknowledge me socially" (79).[pages:25, 26, 39-40, 79, 82, 128]
Stedman is mentioned as "the closest of the poet's surviving friends." The writer quotes Stedman's remarks that Stoddard's poetry exhibited "affluence, sincere feeling, strength, a manner peculiarly his own, very delicate fancy, and, above all, an imagination at times exceeded by that of no other American poet" (378).[pages:378]
The column reports that Stedman's poem "The Mountain" is published in the latest edition of the Atlantic Monthly (4).[pages:4]
According to Parry, Stedman and Winter were not fans of Whitman at Pfaff's (39). When Clapp was attacked in the Round Table, he fired back at "bogus Bohemians" like Stoddard and Stedman, writing:
"The fact is that the Round Table came into the world because the bogus Bohemians have been expelled from the round table at Pfaff's and emigrated to Nassau Street. They are only attempting to ride into notoriety upon the back of Bohemia, as the snail in the fable rode upon the back of the hare. For the real Bohemia includes all the best writers in the metropolis" (46).
Parry mentions that Clapp might have "felt qualms as to the wisdom of lingering behind in the doubtful company" of several of the more "mediocre" Pfaffians who were still alive after the Civil War, including Stedman, who became a Wall Street broker "to the detriment of his poetry" (47). Parry also writes that "Stoddard tried to wean such valued friends as O'Brien, Stedman, and Taylor from the dissolute circle. O'Brien resisted successfull, and died tragically, but Stedman and Taylor were easily led to respectibility" (59).
Parry also writes of how the Pfaffians used vaguely sexual descriptions to shock the outside public and discusses Stedman's "Bohemia":
"In his early peom, 'Bohemia,' E.C. Stedman sang of 'my Blanche...my sweetheart,' who 'fairer to the eye than ever, moved along serene...a gypsy queen, born pricess of Bohemia.' He mentioned a 'bookish Sybil -- she whose tongue the bees of Hybla must have fed,' and the delighted Pfaffians must have recognized Ada in the portriat. He applauded a virtuous 'Rose, whose needle gains her bread,' but in the same breath, this future churchman of Wall Street went mad -- oh, horrors! -- over 'wild Annette, danseuse and warbler and grisette, true daughter of Bohemia.' Lest any doubts remain among the good burghers as to the true character and pastimes of these gypsy queens and grisettes at Pfaff's, Stedman painted the general setting in the colors of the 'careless scorn and freedom of Bohemia,' where everything was full of the 'blithesome throng and joyance of Bohemia'" (56).
Parry quotes Stedman's reflections about Pfaff's in the Herald in 1890, at the death of Pfaff (61).
Parry quotes Stedman in his review of historical assessments of Poe's Bohemianism. Stedman wrote in 1885 that the period between leaving Mr. Allan's house and his marriage was the "profilgate phase" of Poe's life; Stedman wrote: "The time had come when Poe, with his sense of the fitness of things, could see that Bohemianism, the charm of youth, is a fram that poorly suits the portrait of a mature and able-handed man" (3).[pages:3,39,41,46,47,56,59,61,127,181]
The obituary reports that Stedman was with Stoddard for the last year and was at his bedside the day Stoddard died. According to the obituary, Stedman defined Stoddard's characteristics as "affluence, sincere feeling, strength, a manner peculiarly his own, very delicate fancy, and, above all, an imagination at times exceeded by that of no other American poet. This last quality pervades his more ambitious pieces, and at times breaks out suddenly in his minor efforts, by which he was best known" (217).[pages:217]
He is quoted as saying about Stoddard, "No poet is more unequal; few have more plainly failed now and then. On the other hand, few have reached a higher tone, and a selection could be made from his poems upon which to base a lasting reputation. 'The Fisher and Charon,' 'The Dead Master' and 'The Hymn to the Sea' are noble pieces of English blank verse, the secret of whose measure is given only to the elect; one is impressed by the art, the thought, the imagination, which sustain these poems, and the Shakespeare and Lincoln odes" (5).[pages:5]
A regular in the bohemian circle at Pfaff's.[pages:142]
Stansell writes that Stedman remembered the 1850s in New York as "bleak": "there was not much of a literary market at that time" (121).[pages:121]
Stedman worked as a reporter for the Tribune in 1860; he is quoted as remarking about being a newspaper reporter, "it is shameful to earn a living in this way" (6).
In a discussion of the idea that "To be a Bohemian affored license for all manner of youthful exuberances," Starr mentions that Stedman "satirized a nouveau riche wedding so pointedly in verse in the Tribune that friends had to intervene to avert a duel with the bride's father" (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 ad 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 inadvertantly 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).
According to Starr, "Ed Stedman of the World got much of his inside information by serving at Attorney General Bates's pardon clerk" (82). Stedman would later become "digusted with the World now that it was turning 'Copperhead'" and claim that the Tribune under Dana was the best-edited paper (133). Stedman quit the World in 1862, when in turned Democratic, labeling it a "secessionist sheet" (357).
Stedman wrote to his brother of newspaper work: "It does not pay...It is better to be a tradesman" (250).
Stedman was a member of the large party of journalists that witnessed the first battle of Bull Run (43). Stedman was with Villard and House when Villard climbed a cherry tree, only to be knocked out of it, mouth full of cherries, by a "terrific roar" from the woods. Stedman also reported to his wife in a letter that during a prelimiary skirmish, when House "had one ball whiz by his ear, got frightened, galloped 22 miles to Washington, and there reported 500 killed, and that the press had fled the field" (44). Stedman was seen "in the thick of it" during the late afternoon battle "grab the standard of the Massachusetts Fifth, 'waving it over him and pleading for the men to rally around him, but it was all in vain'" (47). Stedman's account of this battle ran in all six columns on the front pages of the World and caused the issue to sell out (56). It was ranked among the paper's top pieces of reporting (332). Starr writes that Stedman's "Bull Run was often cited as one of the most graphic of battle dispatches" (357).
After the defeat at Ball's Bluff, "Ed Stedman rode forty-five miles to the scene at one clip, 'got bilious intermittenet fever,' pieced the story together, rode back to Washington, wrote six columns with his head wrapped in a towel, and heard that 'the government has stopped the World tonight and talks of interfering with men, because I got angry and told the truth about Ball's Bluff'" (Part of the material Starr quotes is from Stedman's collected letters) (58).
Stedman was one of a group of reporters, who "with varying degrees of enthusiasm" got involved with the "Chase-for-President" campaign (312). Interestingly, however, Stedman and "another innocent member of the committee inserted Winchell's 'confidential' letter (known subsequently as the Pomeroy Circular) in the Washington Constitutional Union. A letter that delcared Chase a candidate for the Presidency, openly criticized Lincoln, and called for a one-term limit. The publication of the letter more or less destroyed Chase's candidacy (313).
After quitting the World, Stedman maintained an "occasional correspondence" with the Times, and then quit newspaper work in favor of a job as a Wall Street stockbroker. Starr calls him "The Bard of Wall Street." Stedman worked as a stock broker for forty-five years, while also writing "tolerable poetry and excellent criticism." Starr also writes, "As the leader of the New York literary circle of his time, he was a paragon of gentility who, like his friend Thomas Bailey Aldrich looked back with incredulity at his Bohemian days at Pfaff's" (357).[pages:6,7,9,43-47,56,58,82,94,95,112,133,250,266,312,313,332,357, Plate IX (ill)]
Stovall mentions that Stedman recalled seeing Whitman at Pfaff's.[pages:6]
"It is a striking fact that the number of young men prominently connected with the New York press as writers is greater now than at any former period...the chief editorial work in these journals is done by men between the years of twenty-five and forty" (4).
"Edmund C. Stedman, the poet, is still in the early morning of his song" (4).[pages:4]
Stedman's poetry is compared to Arnold's: "Mr. Stedman's 'Ballad of Larger Beer' was a better piece of work than Arnold's 'Beer'" (470).[pages:470]
Whitman discusses how Stedman is the "pick and treasure" of the "bitter" New York Crowd and Whitman seems to be often critical of him and his personality. Whitman also refers to Stedman's ability as a literary critic: "I don't think he fishes with a very deep sinker. [Edmund] Stedman doesn't seem to have vision, soul - depth of nativity - sufficient to make him capable of the highest interpretations."[pages:xxv,58,80,106-107,263]
Whitman tells his brother Jeff about a friend he has named Stedman, who is connected to the big bankers in New York City. Whitman hopes that Stedman might be able to find Jeff a better job.[pages:167]
Whitman notes that there is nothing new going on with Stedman.[pages:339]
Appleton lists Stedman as a chief contributor to his publication
Stedman lived in one of Andrews' Utopia projects which was called a "Unitary Home" or the "Brownstone Utopia."
Winter writes that he knew Stedman as a poet before they met in 1862. Winter says that their acquaintance "speedily ripened into a friendship that was never marred, notwithstanding our variant opinions as to literary matters and our invariably frank and explicit criticism of one another as votaries of the Muse." Winter claims that they would not have had a true friendship if they had not been able to speak honestly to one another. Winter notes that Stedman knew several authors and does not know how he interacted and critiqued them, but writes that Stedman was always both honest and considerate with him (297-298).
Winter notes that Stedman characterized the "peculiar period of literary transition in the chief city of America" as "'that unfriendly time' for letters." Winter remarks that Stedman "lived in it and closely observed it" (105).
Winter remembers Stedman as "one of the merriest of the company" during a "literary festival" that was part of a visit from Oliver Wendell Holmes (124).
Stedman and Woodbury edited the "standard edition" of Poe's works (33).
Stedman was a member of Taylor's poetic group, along with Richard Henry Stoddard, Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, George Henry Boker, Fitz-James O'Brien, Christopher P. Cranch, and George William Curtis. Winter notes that at the time of his writing "not one remains" of this group (177).
Of recent reviews he had received, Taylor wrote to Winter on October 2, 1873: "Stedman wrote such praise of my Vienna Letters (the most ephemeral work) as would have seemed ironical from any but an old friend, without even hinting that he had ever heard of a poem which is worth all my correspondence, from first to last" (173). Stedman is mentioned several other times in Taylor's correspondence.
In a discussion of various writers' composition habits, Winter writes: "Edmund Clarence Stedman, whose poetic achievement made his name illustrious in American literature, told me that it was his custom to select with care the particular form of verse that he designed to use, and sometimes to invent the rhymes and write them at the ends of the lines which they were to terminate,--thus making a skeleton of a poem, as a ground-work on which to build." Winter appears to find this method a bit more structured that he envisions for poetic composition (156).
Winter calls Stedman one of the "masters of style" in writing (243).
Winter notes that Stedman, Stoddard, Taylor, and Boker were not associated with Clapp, the Bohemians, or the group that gathered during the time of "The Saturday Press" and Pfaff's Cave. These men did not lead Bohemian lifestyles and were not sympathetic to the lifestyle. Winter does note that "Stedman, indeed, wrote a poem about Bohemia,--a poem which is buoyant with a gypsy spirit and a winning lilt; but it is one thing to write melodious verses about Arcadian bliss, and quite another thing to subsist from week to week on the precarious rations of a publisher's hack" (178-179).
Winter mentions that there was an "brilliant assemblage convened at the Carnegie Lyceum, New York, to participate in a public service commemorative of the loved and honored poet Edmund Clarence Stedman" on January 13, 1909. Winter remarks that during this event, several speeches were made about Stedman's career, including one that discussed his early writing days and erroniously linked him to the Bohemian group. Stedman passed away January 18, 1908, was associated in 1860 with the then religious newspaper, "The New York World." Stedman had acquaintances in the Bohemian group, but he wasn't a member of the group. Winter recalls that Stedman had known Arnold since boyhood and also knew Whitman and Aldrich, but he really did not know any other members of the group. "The literary circle to which Stedman gained access and which he pleased and adorned, was that which comprised Bayard Taylor, Richard Henry Stoddard, Mrs. Stoddard (the brilliant Elizabeth Barstow), George Henry Boker, and Lormier Graham,--a circle distinct from that of the contemporary Bohemia, and not propitious to it" (292-293).
Winter also notes that while Taylor, Stoddard, Stedman, Boker, Curtis, Ludlow, and the names of have been "comingled with those of Clapp's Bohemian associates," they "were not only not affiliated with that coterie but were distinct from it, and, in some instances, were inimical to it" (295).
While Stedman was still alive, the Author's Club, of New York, held a dinner to celebrate the publication of "An American Anthology" on December 6, 1900. Winter gave the keynote address; he reprints the full text in his long section on Stedman (297-298).
Winter reprints a letter from Stedman, p.335-336, that discusses the death of Albert H. Smyth and Winter's tribute to Smyth (335-336).[pages:33,105,124,156,163,173,176,177,178-179,243,292-293,295,297-308,335-336]
Howells mentions him as part of the Pfaff's circle in Literary Friends and Aquaintances, a Personal Retrospect of American Authorship.[pages:100]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015