Though many details about his early life are in dispute, scholars agree that Arnold was born in New York City and that his father may have been the Reverend George B. Arnold.
In this book, Albert Parry traces the literary Bohemian movements in the United States. Parry cites Poe as the founding spirit of Bohemianism in America and cites the group at Pfaff's in New York as the first American literary Bohemian movement. Parry engages in a detailed history of Pfaff's and also relates and compares later Bohemian movements to the activities of this foundational group.
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
Parry writes that in the behavioral trends of the group, Arnold "attempted mild melancholy" (9). Of the poets who wrote about Pfaff's, Arnold wrote a poem about how "We were all very merry at Pfaff's" (24).
Parry writes about Arnold's fight with Whitman at Pfaff's:
"George Arnold was not of their camp in this war. His famous fight with Walt was really only a matter of quick temper, a mere misunderstanding. The trouble with Arnold was that though he, a pastor's son, knew his drinks and how to take them, he never learned to hold them properly. He became quarrelsome though not exactly drunk during more than one party. Once, George Augustus Sala, the visiting British writer, tried to make friends with the American frolickers by deriding Benedict Arnold. Before Arnold violently protested and it ruined the party. He said afterwards that the was not of Benedict's stock, but that he willingly misrepresented himself as his descendant the better to defend the memory of the man.
"George Arnold toll sides with unpopular issues merely for the fun of it. He was all for the Union from the very beginnning of the conflict, but he could not bear the sight of everybody protesting his loudest patriotism for the same cause. So he made his patriotism secret and came out with challenging speeches in defense of the South. One night at Pfaff's he made the error of toasting the Southern arms. Walt sprang up. For the moment he forgot his godlike benignity and broke out with a speech of patriotic vehemence. Arnold retaliated by bending his arm over and across the table and and pulling hard at the Jovian brush which Howells liked the best of all the Pfaffian scenery. The rivals were separated, and it was about then that Whitman shook the Pfaffian part of Broadway's dust from his soles forever. Years later he was to say about his role at Pfaff's: 'I was much better satisfied to listen to a fight than to take part in it'" (41-42).
According to Parry, Whitman would later forgive Arnold for this incident (43). According to Parry, Arnold's death, "whom Clapp dearly loved" began him a bout of "suicial drinking" (47). Arnold died of paralysis. An editorial written after Clapp's death titled "The Late Henry Clapp. A Bohemian's Checkered Life" (April 16, 1875, named Arnold as one of "many a young and promising writer" who he had ruined in addition to himself "by the example of his cynicism and intemperance":
"Without Clapp the Bohemia of New York would not have existed, and it was Bohemianism that slew Arnold and the rest. Clapp lived to preach in his own life a better temperance lecture than he ever delivered in his younger days" (47-48).
Arnold died of paralysis November, 1865. "Philistines hostile to Henry Clapp ascribed Arnold's end to the results of dissipation, nto which Clapp had allegedly enticed him. The accusation was probably groundless, but just the same it made Arnold's death so mansardish. The news was deemed important enough to be telegraphed to the chief newspapers of the land, and in distant San Francisco, young Bret Harte was moved to a tearful article in the Californian. Bret had never met George personally, but he knew his verses and burlesques. Now he shuddered as he imagined the poet-humorist's death. 'Phials and nauseous mixtures flanked his ink stand,'but 'his light, gossiping pen was never dipped in the ugly fluid.' Bret ended by bewailing the fate that compelled a humorist to smile even on his deathbed" (54-55). According to Parry, as the works of Pfaffians spread across the country, Harte would discover the works of Arnold and "follow in his footsteps" (212).
In the 1890s, a discussion of Arnold's life and poetry appeared in the Bohemian in the literary ntes; however, due to hestitancy to discuss Bohemianism, references to Pfaff's beer and his life were not referred to as such (96).
Parry writes that the "romantic souls shed tears reading his [North's] letter to his friends, the artist Bellew and his wife" after his suicide. North's letter to the Bellews read:
"May you be happy! Do not regret me. I am not fit for this world, I fly to a better world. I am calm and brave and hopeful" (49).
Parry claims that the hero of Ada Clare's Only a Woman's Heart, Victor Doria, an actor and sculptor, was a composite of Gottschalk and Booth (33).
Decades after his death, Briggs and English were named by Stoddard as Poe's "Bohemian friends." According to Parry, this was "one of the first references, however indirect, to Poe as a Bohemian by any of his contemporaries" (3).
Clapp helped Brisbane and Greeley "introduce Fourier's social theories in America" and "told funny ghost stories about Brisbane." Parry writes: "It was on the ground of a definite admiration of Fourier's ideas that Clapp met Albert Brisbane. He translated Fourier's works for Brisbane, spending long evenings reading them to him. Once Brisbane fell asleep and snored but the eye visible to Clapp remained and open and vigilant. Even the cynical Henry felt the creeps. Upon investigation, the eye proved to be of glass. In later years, Clapp loved to tell this and other irreverent stories of Brisbane to his cain-raising friends, among them, Fitz-James O'Brien who used Henry's anecdote in "The Wondersmith,' his short story of a magic eye. There was another memorable consequence of the Clapp-Brisbane association: Henry strengthened Albert in his Socialist faith, and thus Arthur Brisbane, Albert's son, was indirectly indebted to Henry Clapp for the heresies of his early editorials for Mr. Hearst" (44-45).
Brougham is listed as one of the Bohemians that "turned respectible" in light of attacks on Pfaff's and the Pfaffians in the press. According to Parry, Brougham (of teh Lantern tried to "forsake the old beer cellar" by holding weekly dinners elsewhere and left many of the Pfaffians off his guest list (59). As a an example of the prosperity of some of the former Pfaffians experienced in the 1870s and 1880s, Parry mentions that Brougham was associated with Dion Boucicault's "theatricals" and became rich as a result (61).
Parry quotes Burroughs's 1862 description of Ada Clare: "She is really beautiful, not a characterless beauty, but a singular, unique beauty" (18). Parry also cites evidence of Burroughs firing back at Clare, "this caustic woman" who "ought to be sentenced to forty years' silence: 'My heart bleeds for Abbey!'" for her reviews of H.A. Abbey's book of poems, May Dreams (29).
Parry uses the example of Burroughs's "Fragments from the Table of an Intellectual Epicure" signed by "All Souls" as an example of the "fancy titles and pen names [that] added to the novel appeal of the sheet [the Saturday Press]" (24). Burroughs met Whitman through Clapp and the Saturday Press; Whitman first caught Burrough's attention when Clapp published "A Child's Reminiscence" in the Saturday Press December 24, 1859. The two men would later be introduced at Pfaff's during a meeting arranged by Clapp; "and Burroughs left completely charmed, to become one of the first apostles of the Great Loafer" (40-41).
Clapp was born November 11, 1814, in Nantucket, to "a family of seamen and merchants famous for longevity." His family did not support his early literary endeavors, which prompted the older Clapp to give this advice to young writers: "Never confide secrets to your relatives: blood will tell" (43). Clapp became "a radical and a cynic" after "a number of years at sea and behind the counter"; "When he finally emerged into the press and literature, he became known as the greatest hater of brownstone respectability of his time" (43). Parry writes, "It was said of him that exposed all kinds of sham except his own. But this was not quite true" (44). Clapp began his adult life as a Sunday-school teacher, temperence editor, and lecturer and later drifted towards Socialism, Bohemianism, and drinking; "To the end of his life he poked fun at almost all the new ideas and men discovered by him as well as at his old follies." Also, according to Parry, while he did bring Bohemianism to America, he did not enjoy the title of "King of Bohemia." Clapp helped Brisbane translate Fourier's works from the French, and the story he told about discovering that Brisbane had a glass eye when he was reading to Brisbane and he fell asleep seeming to have one eye open inspired O'Brien's "The Wondersmith" (44-45).
Parry writes that "it was the bon mots that were destined to make Clapp's reputation in American letters. After his death, even his enemies admitted that Henry Clapp said more 'good things' than any other American journalist of his time." Parry continues to provide several examples of Clapp's most notable, remembered, or famous "bon mots" (45). According to Parry, some of Clapp's personal targets were Wall Street, which he called "Caterwaul Street," the government for selecting "In God we trust" for the motto that appears on coins, the island of Cuba, and the Union College of New York's conferring on Gen. Grant an LL.D. (45-46).
Parry writes, "Clapp looked such an indefinite age that his confreres called him the Oldest Man. He was small of stature, haggard of appearance, but wiry and alert. His voice was thin and cutting. His eyes seemed the bluer and his beard the grayer for the incessant smoke of his pipe and the steam of his coffee. He looked the epithet of 'the intensest personality' often applied to him. The most characteristic sketch of him, drawn by an unknown admirer, hung on the walls of Pfaff's for many years" (46). Parry also includes the description of Clapp that appeared in the New York Leader in 1864, where he was then a contributor. Parry also notes, however, that other "more devastating characterizations" of Clapp began to appear in the press at this time. Both Clapp and Bohemia were attacked by outsiders and former Pfaffians turned "respectable." In answering these attacks, Clapp named "bogus Bohemians" among them, namely Stoddard and Stedman. Parry notes, however, that even Clapp had agreed that the pre-war Bohemia was much better than what existed after the Civil War and grew increasingly bitter and cynical over the years. According to Parry, "He was baffled by the fact that he, the oldest of the Bohemians, was outliving most of them. The brilliant of the group were dying fast, the mediocre lived on. Perhaps, he felt qualms as to the wisdom of lingering behind much longer in the doubtful company of Winter, who tried to make the American theater very respectable, and Stedman, who became a Wall Street broker to the detriment of his poetry." Parry also notes that Clapp took Arnold's death especially hard, and feels that this event started him "on his course of suicidal drinking" (47). According to Parry, "He knew that his end was approaching, and though he was cynical about America, her people, her politics, and her letters, he was cheerful about his own fate. There was something socratic in the Henry Clapp of the closing years. The few friends who understood him supplied him with money to buy the drinks. Herr Pfaff fed him gratis. But some meddlesome souls tried to save Clapp from his bliss; George Hall, mayor of Brooklyn, printer and temperance worker, sent him several times to the Binghamton Inebriate Asylum, but to no avail. Plainly, Clapp was proving how wrong William Douglas O'Connor was when he prophesied that Henry would most horribly end in respectibility as a member of the Common Council or Board of Aldermen -- 'the guilty result of Bohemianism'" (47). Clapp died April, 1875, and Parry reprints the harsh April 16, 1875 obituary from the New York Daily Graphic that states:
"There has rarely been a more pathetic picture than this poor old man presented, reduced to rags, consumed by a horrible thirst, and utterly without a hope for this world or the next. What memories must have haunted him of the young men who used to meet him at Pfaff's and whom he had educated to believe that drink and infidelity were the marks of literary genius! From temperance lectures and Sunday-school teaching to beggary, lonliness, and the degredation is a stride that no man can take without knowing the keen misery of mourning over a wasted life" (47).
The obituary then continues on, accusing him of corrupting and hastening the deaths of other young writers, such as Arnold, through his example. Parry also writes of Howells's negative remarks about Clapp and notes taht "there might have been consolation for the dying Clapp in the memory that he never paid Howells for his contributions" (47-48).
In discussing the project for a writer undertaking a history of Greenwich Village and what was in New York before Greenwich Village, Parry writes: "Yet earlier, the writer is compelled to trace a connecting link between a great genius like Poe and a talented dilettante like Clapp because both of them were called Bohemians and, in fact, Clapp's group gathered in Pfaff's saloon a few short years after Poe's death from alcohol and madness" (xiii). Parry continues that this first Bohemian group "was not still-born. It had a justification of its own, however negligent most of its achievements and results may seem now. It burst forth in the wake of the sluggish and ponderous Knickerbocker school. It stormed the prim fastness of literary Boston. Rebellion against the slow waters and mild breezes emanating from the ancient seat of American culture was the main raison d'etre of New York's first Bohemians. Henry Clapp, Fitz-James O'Brien, Ada Clare, and their group were the first organizers writers to insist on transferring contemporary life and literature from the prison of salons to the freer air of saloons. They upheld the memory of Poe, they helped enthrone Whitman, and they prepared the path for much of the unorthodox that was to follow in American letters" (xiii).
Clapp returned to New York and "boldly" declared himself a Bohemian after the "struggling journalist and theatrical critic" visited Paris. After this declaration he "named his articles feuilletons, and for lack of sidewalk cafes cultivated Pfaff's beer cellar under the Broadway pavement" (21). He was joined by actors, writers, artists, law and medical students who also called themselves Bohemians and was also imitated in several other New York saloons. "They too called themselves Bohemians; they kept late hours; they pretended to flout conventions, and they clothed their poverty with the poetical cloak of Murger's philosophy. The time was propitious, for by the beginning of the second half of the century America had produced a sizeable class of professional men of arts, but was not as yet ready to pay them more than a gingery and dubious admiration" (21). According to Parry, "It was Charlie's coffee that attracted Clapp, his discoverer and first booster" (22).
In a discussion of various Pfaffians's attempts to emulate or uphold the memory of Poe, especially his "distrust of mankind and his despair of the world," Parry writes that Clapp "endeavored to be as sexless and as sublimely morose as Poe, but since Henry was essentially a cynic and a wit he failed, and turned out to be caustically sullen instead -- yet quite sexless" (9).
Parry writes that Clapp "reluctantly answered" to the title "the King of Bohemia" and that he and Ada Clare "were consorts in name only." According to Parry, Clapp was the "least active" of Clare's many admirers. "Clapp, in spite of his volubility, kept much to himself; he liked to talk of everything except himself; no on knew whom or when he loved" (19).
Clapp founded the Saturday Press in October 1858; the paper was "jestingly referred to as the house organ of Pfaff's." According to Parry, "The public gasped at the editorial paragraphs of Henry Clapp. For the first time in the memory of the living, the whiskers of American gods were pulled by a weekly with such nonchalant energy and air of authority." Parry also writes, "Often, Clapp and his paper appeared to be naive and hitting at small fry, but on the whole it did valuable spading of American life and spanking of the native arts" (24). Parry mentions that Clapp wrote under the "transparent incognito" of "Figaro" (24). Parry also notes others' views of Clapp and the Saturday Press: "When, in August, 1860, Howells paid a personal visit to New York and Clapp's editorial office, he found himself displeased with the foreign character of Henry's coterie which he called 'a sickly colony, transplanted from the mother asphalt of Paris, and never really striking root in the pavements of New York.' Winter said that in temperment and mentality Clapp was really more of a Frenchman than an American; he even compared him to Voltaire, in looks, at least. Even his enemies in the contemporary press wrote of Clapp: 'He caught the trick of French terseness and sharpness, and he feuilletons might have been written by a Parisian'" (24).
Parry writes that after the Civil War, despite the losses among the former Pfaffians, illnesses, and changes in spirit, Clapp attempted to "revive the old spirit" of Bohemia. He brought back the Saturday Press on August 5, 1865, and several national newspapers gave positive reviews to the papers' first few issues. Pfaff advertised the paper's return (32).
In terms of publicizing and reinforcing Whitman's ego, at Pfaff's Whitmat "was the shrine to which Clapp brought the faithful" (38). Parry notes that Clapp helped to spread Whitman's fame and would often show him off to visitors at the bar. Clapp missed him the rare evenings he did not show. While Clapp seems to have liked and enjoyed Whitman's presence at Pfaff's, several other regulars, such as Stedman and Winter did not mind when he was absent and did not miss his "gross bigotry." Parry cites Whitman's birthday toast of "That's the feller! to Clapp as one instance in which "Winter though it mighty poor eloquence in honor of Clapp and still worse English" (39). Clapp, "one of the first to proclaim the genius of Walt Whitman," however, would sometimes make friendly jests at Whitman's expense: "Walt, you include everything. What have you got to say to the bed-bug?" (39). According to Parry, "Clapp and his journal brought upon themselves the ire and the admiration of the day for their insistance that Whitman was greater than Longfellow" (39-40). Parry gives and overview of the poetry, editorials, parodies, and reviews of Whitman's work that Clapp published in the Saturday Press. During this period, Clapp and Whitman kept up a correspondence in which Clapp discussed some of the financial problems of the Saturday Press with Whitman. According to Parry, Whitman especially liked the stories in which Clapp would barricade the paper's office doors to prevent the entry of bill collectors and would prompt the staff to remain silent when creditors tested the doors; Whitman called Clapp's efforts "the most heroic fight to keep the Press alive" (40). Clapp introduced Burroughs to Whitman, as he knew both men through the Saturday Press, which is also how Burroughs took notice of Whitman's work. Parry notes that even though the Press died, "Clapp still championed the cause of Walt in a world so hostile to both of them" (41).
Parry mentions that in the Summer of 1865, when Clapp attempted to "resurrect New York's Villonia, the opposition was terrifc." His former co-workers at the Leader strongly opposed the idea and went as far as to write articles and editorials to that effect (60). Much later, when the idea of Bohemianism was revived, in the form of the New Bohemian writers like Eva Katherin Clapp contributed based on claims of blood ties to Clapp, and the paper made "other mistakes that showed their complete ignorance of that old Bohemia which they tried to claim as their honorable family-tree" (186).
Ada Clare was born Jane McElheney in Charleston, South Carolina in 1836. She was orphaned as a child and moved North with her grandfather. Her cousin was Paul Hamilton Hayne, "who grew up to be one of the glorious poets of the South." Her grand-uncle was Robert Hayne, who orated against Daniel Webster. Clare left her grandfather's home at an early age and gained literary notice at the age of nineteen. Her first poem was published in January, 1855, in the Atlas a New York weekly (16). The editors liked her work, and her second poem was publsihed under her full pen name of Ada Clare; she was publicly invited by the editors to publish frequently in their paper. Parry suggests that it is unlikely that Clare was a "find" for the paper and that she had most likely met the editors in one of New York's literary salons and had carefully planned her literary debut and successful reception. This early notice made her something of a celebrity and prompted other magazines to request her work for publication. She began to write, in addition to poetry short stories and sketches, typically about "love and its pangs" (17-18). "She drank in her new fame excitedly, and contemplated her future immortality. She wrote: 'Who knows whether I may go down to posterity as the Love-Philosopher?'" (18). According to Parry, "Soon she began to appear at first nights in the New York theaters, and, though her manner of dress was found by the connoisseurs to be a bit too showy and even loud, her beauty was admired. Men about town lauded her physical charms as much as her intellect, and the reputation of a ravisher was hers till her death" (18).
Parry writes that Clare's "past was acquired in the middle 'Fifties" and feels that her Paris trip may have been a factor in gaining her a reputation. Parry suggests that Clare visited Paris either on a secret honeymoon or to find a place that would be suitable for giving birth to her son Aubrey. Parry notes that Aubrey's birth and death dates are uncertain, but it is known that he accompanied her on trips to California and Hawaii in the 1860s, and that he died in the East in childhood (18). Parry writes that "When outsiders pressed too insistently with their queries, the Pfaffians answered that Ada's son was the result of an immaculate conception. They also said that their Queen was entirely virtuous; but the outsiders sneered that it was virtue in the French fashion: no more than one lover at a time!" (18-19). Parry makes it clear, however, that Clare and Clapp were most likely not romantically involved. Parry also notes that noted pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk was "more or less generally known" to be Aubrey's father. According to Parry, Gottschalk was a much-sought after paramour who boasted about his ability to seduce women. Clare was "madly in love with him and invited her public to share her joys and sorrows" (19). She wrote frequently about their tempestuous relationship (19-20). Parry mentions that Gottschalk only acknowledged his paternity through tickets and toys when all parties were in the same town (20). According to Parry, the public's hostility towards her grew as her private affairs and romantic entanglements became more public. She also introduced herself and Aubrey as "Miss Ada Clare and Son." Whitman and the "respectable literati" criticized her lifestyle and work based on the accounts of her private life. She retaliated in the press; "She also appealed to her Pfaffian subjects for help, and when that was slow in coming she helped herself by praising Ada Clare in articles signed 'Alastor' and with other psuedonyms. Did she learn the trick from Walt Whitman, or was Walt indebted to her for it?" (27). It seems that her "noteriety" spread nationally and had reached Howells in Ohio by 1860 (28).
According to Parry, Clare's writing "did not bring her any money to speak of -- it was not the custom of the day to pay authors living wages" but she was able to support herself well enough and also had property in South Carolina. Parry writes that "Early in 1857, the New Yorkers were astonished to read in their press sparkling and worldly letters written from Paris by a girl of twenty-one, who proudly boasted of her 'youth without guidance'" (20). During this period she also made the acquaintance of the Paris Bohemians, and "When Ada came back to New York she found the Pfaff's circle eagerly waiting for her. The Bohemians had to have their women. Perhaps most of them did not expect these women to be equal to them in brilliance, but once they realized the full range of Ada's interests and intellect they hailed her enthusiastically and proclaimed her their queen" (21). According to Parry, "she promptly and gladly ascended the throne" and became a contributor to the Saturday Press, "enlivening" the paper with her "sad confessions." Parry also writes that Clare "supervised the common-purse suppers staged in the famous basement in honor of this or that member of the cenacle, and years later the New York Herald said in all seriousness that the famous American institution of teh surprise party was originated at Pfaff's" (26). She also took part in the discussions, poetry-writing contests, laid down rules for the proper conduct of the group, and "protested against the sneers of 'our Saturday papers,'" which labeled the Bohemian and poor, dirty, and slovenly. Parry writes that "Her mission at Pfaff's she understood as that of the purifier and guardian of a better Bohemia" (26-27).
Parry writes of the literary movements in New York before the era of Greenwich Village: "Henry Clapp, Fitz-James O'Brien, Ada Clare, and their group were the first organizers writers to insist on transferring contemporary life and literature from the prison of salons to the freer air of saloons. They upheld the memory of Poe, they helped enthrone Whitman, and they prepared the path for much of the unorthodox that was to follow in American letters" (xiii). Parry writes that in Clare's attempt to "emulate Poe's distrust of mankind and his despair of the world," she "attempted mild melancholy" (9).
Parry says that she was the "Queen of Bohemia" and very much "at the center of the entire picture" at Pfaff's and in the Bohemian circle (14). According to Parry, Whitman admired her as "a New Woman born too soon," who was among his "sturdiest defenders and upholders" (14). Parry also notes that she opened the doors of Pfaff's to other women, but that these women "lingered but a short time, whereas Ada remained to rule. Her title originated in the very beginning of her career and persisted through the years, long after her followers were dispersed and she had become a prosaic and devoted wife. In 1874, after her tragic end, the newspapers saw good copy, not only in the tragedy itself, but also in her old exalted title...Not as a dutiful wife, but as Queen of Bohemia was Ada destined to go down in the history of American letters" (14-15). According to Parry, Clare had national fame, however, the historical records make little or brief mentions of her; "a vauge memory or a sentimental verse in one book or another" (15). He also notes that her biography was largely dismissed as unimportant to those who wrote about her life, including the authors of her obituaries: "She was a brilliant women to them, but with a past not exactly savory. Detailed biographies were due only to the upright dead" (15). Parry notes that even Winter, who wrote detailed biographies of other Pfaffians and was on the coroner's jury that investigated her death only makes a passing mention of Clare's life in a short obituary and a poem (16). According to Parry, "She departed from life at the unfortunate time of the Temperance Crusades. The press of America was busy paying reverence to the good ladies warring against the saloon. Could it print detailed and repectful memories of one who once was the queen of a saloon? The country in general could only gasp at the unusual spectacle of a cultured and genteel female visiting a beer-house, not to pray and exhort, but to drink and smoke...She was more than the queen of the American Bohemians; she was the first woman among them. While the first men of American Bohemia were met by the public with reserved awe, she was treated with unreserved suspicion" (16).
According to Parry, Clare was a "sad disappointment" on stage. She made her amateur debut at the Academy of Music on November 27, 1855 in the role of Ophelia in Hamlet. Her professional debut was in 1858, at the Lyceum, as Julia in the Hunchback; "The performance turned out a dismal mess. The critics found her arms too thin and her voice too shrill" (28). As a result, Clare did not act again until the mid-1860s; she sailed for California February 3, 1864, to join Adah Isaacs Menken "and to learn the secret of stage triumphs." Her son, who was most likely seven or eight at the time, traveled with her and shocked other passengers when he referred to her as "Ada Clare" (28). Her arrival seems to have been celebrated and she contributed to the Golden Era weekly (29-30). During this time, she made friends with Menken, as "Both of them came from the South, there was only one year of difference in their ages, and they were equal in their love of adventure and unconventional life" (30). Parry notes, however, that Menken did not help forward Clare's stage career and instead sailed for England in April, 1864. After California, Clare traveled to Hawaii and appeared to have become romantically involved with some men in both California and Hawaii. She returned to the stage in San Francisco and appears to have done poorly there (30-31). She left for New York January 11, 1865, and returned to New York "at a time when the city was trying to recapture its pre-war leisure and gay pace" (31-32). As a result of the war, she lost her Southern property and attempted to "recoup her losses from the New York papers," sometimes contributing verses to papers but then charging the editors prices for her work that she called "unconscionable" (32-33).
During her post-war stay on Long Island, Clare decided to make her attempt that the yet-unwritten "Great American Novel." In 1866, Mr. Doolady published in New York Only a Woman's Heart, a slightly altered version of her own romantic past. The "hero" of the book, Victor Doria, was a character written as a composite of Gottschalk and Edwin Booth. The heroine, Laura Milsand, was basically Ada Clare, except that she was described as a brunette. "There were many emotions in the book, at the end of which the two lovers, reconciled, perished together in a shipwreck" (33). The reviews of the book were overwhelmingly negative; Parry writes that they carried "with them a tornado of sneers and jeers that nearly wrecked poor Ada." He also writes that "The kindest of the critics remarked that though the novel bore the impress of true talent, it was a failure nevertheless; that is was a collection of clever bits unskilfully put together; that though by no means deficient in passages of excellent merit, it showed an evident want of art" (33). Most of the reviews were much harsher and rumors were spread that her good friend, Bret Harte, wrote a negative review that appeared in the Californian, which she refused to believe. According to Parry, Clare's visit to California is what "strengthened his [Harte's] resolve to be a Murgertie, gay and witty" (212).
At this point, she decided to leave the literary profession and focus on acting, this time "in a more modest and practicable mood," signing an eight-month contract with a company in Tennessee. She declared the end of Ada Clare, and began using the new stage name Agnes Stanfield (33-34).
In Memphis, Clare played the roles of boys and young men, and while she disliked this, she also said that she had little hope of ever moving beyond these parts. She also declared that she preferred the acting "profession better and better the more she saw of its hardships, which she found to be preferable by far to 'the anxiety, vexation of spirit, constant detraction and too frequent mental anguish which the literary profession entails.'" She also mentioned often that she would never return to Pfaff's. Parry quotes Clare: "How sick I am of the petty noteriety which is not fame, how tired I am of exicting curiosity which is not interest!" (34). She was quite successful acting in small roles in the 1867-1868 season. She married J.F. Noyes September 9, 1868. Gottschalk died in December, 1869; "It was rumored that he died as he had lived, a philanderer falling under the mortal blow of an irate Brazilian husband." Parry also mentions that it is about this time or soon after that Clare's son Aubrey died. Parry writes that Clare "moved on the Southern stage a really tragic figure" (34).
Clare died in the Spring of 1874. Parry writes that while the critics had agreed that Clare's career as an actress had not been particularly successful, she had pursued her new profession "with commendable and unwearied industry" (35). Clare and Noyes were visiting New York, looking for work on Janguar 30, 1874, when they visited Sanford and Weaver's dramatic agency on Amity Street. The pet dog of the house, a black and tan terrier, recognized her and jumped into her lap while she was conversing with Mrs. Sanford. She was petting the dog when it suddenly snarled and attacked her, biting through the cartilage of her nose. The dog was dead the next day, which was when everyone learned that it had been ill and irritated for several days before it bit Ada Clare. Her wounds were cauterized and she was declared well enough to act in Newark, New Jersey. Clare received bad reviews for her "disfigurement" which also called for her retirement. She responded with a letter to the paper St. Louis Republican (where the review from a New York correspondent had been printed) on February 20. Parry claims Clare stated this was not out of vanity "but witha view to future loaves and fishes. She was full of misgivings, however, as to her recovery. Even as the days went by, and the wound healed, the foreboding of death was growing in her. To her friends she said she was convinced the dog was mad; 'she spoke of her probable fate with a kind of weary acceptance, as if she did not care much about it.' When the end came, Mr. Sanford vigorously protested that the dog was not mad, and that Ada died of sheer nervousness" (35). Clare died Wednesday, March 4, 1974, after going on tour with Lucille Western's company that Sunday. In Rochester, during a performance of East Lynne, she started experiencing pain, which caused the performance to be stopped so that she could be removed from the stage, "raving." She was taken by train to New York, where she was convinced the other passengers wanted to kill her. She was attended to by three doctors at her boarding house in New York, where she asked them to bleed her to death and where she also "asked her husband to shoot her, and placed a handkerchief over her face so that she would not see the pistol." She was given opiates and died at 9:30 in the evening. She was buried in Hammonton, NJ, next to her son Aubrey. According to Parry, "The obituaries were short and full of errors in the names and dates. The most accurate was published by the Tribune, evidently written by William Winter. He said: 'It is a grave that will be hallowed to some hearts by gentle thoughts and tender memories. The friends that Ada Clare made, she "grappled to her soul with hooks of steel." Many harsh words have been said of this poor woman. She was really known to few persons.'" Parry also reprints Winter's poem "Ada":
She strove, through trouble's lasting blight,
For pathways smooth,
And many hands she found to smite,
And few to soothe.
And wandering through the Winter night,
For beggar's dole,
Is not more piteous in its plight
Than was her soul (35-36).
Parry claims, however, that Whitman paid Clare the best tribute:
"Poor, poor Ada Clare -- I have been inexpressibly shocked by the horrible and sudden close of her gay, easy, sunny, free, loose, but not ungood life" (37).
According to Parry, her name was the first of many mentioned by Pfaff and Whitman when they toasted the deceased Bohemians in 1881 (37).
Parry mentions Clemenceau as one of the visitors to Pfaff's in the late 1860s and 1870s, when the "saloon prospered commercially but not intellectually." Parry writes, "At the end of the late 'Sixties, just before he began to hate everything German, a poor, struggling French teacher, doctor, and journalist, Georges Clemenceau by name, frequented the saloon, and later the protrait of the Tiger-to-be hung in a yellow frame on the wall" (61).
Parry wties that "The imbibers at Pfaff's of the 'Fifties took up Poe's fight against the smugness and prosperity of Boston, making an exception, from among all the butts of Poe's hatred, of Emerson only" (9).
Parry mentions that Whitman once brought Emerson to Pfaff's, where Emerson called them "noisy and rowdy firemen and could not understand what bonds they claimed with Walt." Parry also writes that Emerson did not know that Whitman felt himself superior to the Pfaffians and loved the adulation that came from frequenting the bar (38).
English and Briggs were mentioned by Stoddard as Poe's Bohemian friends in "one of the first references, however indirect, to Poe as a Bohemian by any of his contemporaries" (3).
English, described by Parry as "the ancient author of 'Ben Bolt,' the song prominently figuring in Trilby" was celebrated in 1894 and 1895 when the theatrical version "bogus Bohemian" serial from Harper's was a hit. Evidently, he "was discovered by alert reporters to be in the slumbers of New Jersey. He was brought to New York and feted and toasted amid great gatherings" (105).
Parry includes Eytinge's sketch of Fitz-James O'Brien on p.51.
Gayler, mentioned here as "an early American dramatist," is listed as one of the "few survivors of the old assembly" who still gathered at Pfaff's in the 1870s (61).
Parry writes that Clapp helped Brisbane and Greeley "introduce Fourier's social theories in America" and that "he defined Greeley as a self-made man who worshipped his creator" (44).
Parry reprints the illustration "An Artists' Boarding-House" from Gunn's book, The Physiology of New York Boarding-Houses on p.23.
Parry mentions that Herbert's (Frank Forester) suicide followed North's on May 16, 1858. Like North, Herbert was "another roving Englishman." Parry writes, "This prolific writer on game, the first in America to introduce hunting and fishing into ficiotn on an extensive scale , still read by hordes of rural American sportsman of today, was an aristocrat among the Bohemians of New York. He appeared among them rarely, and as seldom he included them among his guests at his New Jersey estate of the Cedars. An older man than most of the mansarders, he treated them with a certain touch of lordly superiority (he was, indeed, related to the Earl of Carnarvon), but he insisted that he was part of New York's Bohemia. The Pfaffians gladly accepted him as their own man. His literary temper tantrums and his stormy love affairs were among the most favorite topics in Clapp's circle. When his last young wife left him, Herbert-Forester arranged a grand dinner at the Stevens House on Broadway, near Bowling Green. There he invited his friends to eat, drink, and see him shoot himself dead before a large mirror" (49-50).
Parry writes that on Howell's only visit to Pfaff's, he "found the German pancakes rather toothsome, though he charged the saloon with the poor appetite show by Clapp's men at supper" (22). During Howell's visit to the offices of the Saturday Press that same August, 1860, Parry mentions that "he found himself displeased with the foreign character of Henry's coterie which he called 'a sickly colony, transplanted from the mother asphalt of Paris, and never really striking root in the pavements of New York'" (24). According to Parry, during this visit, Howells went to Pfaff's to see Whitman and also because he was "curious about" Ada Clare, whose reputation had spread as far as his native Ohio; he also conceded, however, that "it was taken for granted that she was a brilliant woman." During this visit, Parry writes that Howells's "soul of propriety revolted at the sight of Pfaffians 'who neither said nor did anything worthy of their awful appearance,' but he forgave Walt's naturalness for his talent and dignity, and Ada's wild reputation for her 'sprightly gift in letters.'" Parry also notes that "In later years he spoke with feeling of her fate, which, 'pathetic at all times, out-tragedies almost any other in the history of letters'" (28). Parry claims that when Howells visited Pfaff's, Whitman mistook him "for a member of the faithful and warmly shook his hand as the chaste young Ohioan was angrily leaving the cellar. Whitman did not know who Howells was an dstill less what he was destined to become, but he liked to play his role of a benevolent celebrity and shake strangers' hands with hearty magnificence" (38). According to Parry, Howells liked Whitman's beard "the best of all the Pfaffian scenery" (42).
As an example of one of Clapp's "bon mots," Parry cites the instance when Clapp learned from "Howells that he and Hawthorne were shy when meeting each other, Clapp dubbed them a couple of shysters, much to the merriment of present Pfaffians" (45). Parry writes that on Clapp's death, "Howells wrote that Henry was not such a cynic after all, that 'he had really talked himself into being what he seemed.' Howells wanted to see the whole world smiling, he tried to find in Clapp 'a kindly optimist at heart.' He intimated, in effect, that Clapp might have been sorry for his fire and sharpness at least in his dying moment. But if Clapp, on his deathbed, was indeed remorseful over anything, it was most likely over the fact that he was one of the first to encourage Howells and print his youthful poems. However, there might have been consolation for the dying Clapp in his memory that he never paid Howells for his contributions" (48).
In the 1870s, Aldrich and Howells were elected members of the Boston Payrus Club begun by John Boyle O'Reilly without being aware of the club's "scarlet lining" as a Bohemian organization (139). According to Parry, when O'Reilly produced and printed the "national anthem of the boundless realm of Bohemia" called "In Bohemia" to the club, "If William Dean Howells was gruff about it or, at best, coldly condescending, the other members frankly raved" (140).
Parry notes that in the 1890s, during the popularity of a new brand of Bohemainism, he wrote in his 1893 novel The Coast of Bohemai that "to explain what Bohemain meant, and what Bohemia was...no one can quite do." Parry writes that "He was not so wrong at that. Howells then proceeded to pull Bohemia's ears -- very gently -- as a harmless pretension." Parry also notes that secure in his own reputation, Howells could take a "paternal" attitude towards the young Bohemains of this period, as they were "not as ferocious as Clapp" and "did not try to drag Howells off his pedestal; in fact, they respected their elders and were awed by the standards of Boston" (100). According to Parry, by 1900, there were so many versions of "Bohemianism" in America "that Howells' picture of it became even more narrow and stilted than it was in 1893 (106).
Parry describes her as "the diva," "an American prima donna then at the sunset of her career but prosperous enough to be kind to the young art-gentry of New York and to go to Italy for her winters. She was the link between Pfaff's and Maria's," a New York restaurant popular among the "Bohemians" of the 1890s (92). Parry continues that "She remembered the fascinatingly drooping eyelids of Gottschalk, Ada's gay deceiver. She told at Maria's droll stories of his unnumerable conquests of silly females. The frequenters of Maria's gasped at this long-ago deviltry. They pressed Madame Kellogg for more details, forgetting to be discreet. But Madame primly assured them that she herself had had a good guardian in the person of her mother who warned her against Gottschalk. Madame said she had no dealings with Louis except professionally. The voluptuaires at Maria's winked at each other behind Madame's broad back" (92).
Leland's pen name was Hans Breitmann, under which he wrote "funny ballads in the German dialect"; Leland was also "the authority on Gypsy lore, a participant of the French barricades of 1848, a fighter in the American Civil War, the editor of the old Vanity Fair." Parry quotes Leland's niece, Elizabeth Robins Pennell:
"Anywhere, save in Philadelphia, he might, like Gautier in Paris, have gathered a group of other impatient young souls about him. In Philadelphia, he was practically alone, so that his contempt was not tempered by the humour of companionship. To be in revolt all by one's self was to have none of the fun of defiance" (151).
Leland was born and raised in Philadelpia and educated at Princeton, Heidelberg, and Munich and spent time in Paris, where Parry quotes his niece, "the vie de Boheme had not become petrified into a legend; Murger, its prophet was just beginning to be heard of" (151). Parry notes that his letters to his brother Henry in the Winter on 1847-1848 seem to celebrate the Bohemian lifestyle, but Parry notes that Leland "not even once called himself a Bohemian, but undoubtedly lived like one" (151). According to Parry, Leland was disappointed with life in Philadelphia and its drabness when he returned home in 1848; "He hated the calm smugness of his home city after the turmoil and color of Europe. He said that Philadelphia was the only city in the world of which so little evil or so much good could be said, yet of which so few worth-while people spoke with any enthusiasm. He thought it significant that the Philadelphians spent more money on bouquets than books. With the mingled airs of cosmopolitanism and Hamletism he exclaimed: 'I had been in Arcadia; I was now in a very pleasant sunny Philistia; but I could not forget the past!'" (151-152).
Parry writes that Leland thought New York might be "livlier" and left the legal profession and Philadelphia for "Manhattan and literature" in the 1850s. After staying in Manhattan briefly, he returned home to Philadelpia, as "there was live in his hatred for his home city." After his return, "again his sharp tongue lashed the homely virtues of Philadelphia, paining his folk and friends," and he again returned to New York, where he was employed in a series of jobs, including editing Vanity Fair, which was where many of the Pfaff's circle "gaily labored" (152).
Parry writes that "Pfaff's would have been Leland's proper milieu, but by then he had a restraining wife. When, in 1871, the Revue de Deux Mondes of Paris published an article about him and his Hans Brietmann ballads, there was a mention of a rumor that he had been a frequenter of Pfaff's and that it was he who introduced Artemus Ward to the Bohemians. Leland flared up in an angry refutation. He wrote: 'I held myself very strictly aloof from the Bohemians, save in business affairs. This was partly because I was married, and I never saw the day in my life when to be regarded as a real Bohemian vagabond, or shiftless person, would not have given me the horrors.' Once, he quit a literary job because he thought he was surrounded by 'shady, shaky Bohemianism.' Yet, he hated Philadelphia because it was so sunny and solid. For many years, he kept fleeing Philadelphia, and returning to it. He was a true son of his city, inhibited, yet trying to break away from the inhibitions, and succeeding only in part" (152).
Parry writes that Leland's interest in the Gypsies gave him a "certain relase and compromise" between his impluses. "There were freedom and romance in his many friendships among the Gypsies, in his learning to speak the Romany language. Yet the interest remained entirely respectable." According to Parry, Leland claimed a "scientific" interest in the Gypsies and felt it was safe to introduce his niece to his Gypsy associates and teach her Romany without undoing her convent education (152).
Parry also notes that Leland "never ceased to resent his Hans Breitmann fame. He enjoyed the writing of the funny ballads, but their fame had a sinful aspect to him. He longed for the free and funny in life, yet he ran away from it" (152-153). Of his international fame, Parry writes that "Leland scowled when in far-off Egypt he was recognized not as a serious writer on art and poltical subjects, but as the author of the nonsensical Hans Breitmann ballads" (230).
In discussing Poe's use of drugs, Parry writes "There was no idle interest and no empty pretension in Poe's sporadic use of drugs. He did not start it out of bravado as Fitz Hugh Ludlow and many other imitators did years later" (6).
According to Parry, after Arnold's death, Ludlow was the next to go in September, 1870. Ludlow was a native New Yorker, unlike many of the Pfaffians. According to Parry, "He was also the first Amernica art-zany to die abroad, but it was in Geneva and not on the Left Bank of the Seine that he finished his days." According to Parry, the "respectable Harpers had published his confessions of a hasheesh easter in the belief that he had cured himself of the terrible habit, but if he really did so it was only to continue with opium." Parry also writes that "His activity was the more picturesque since, like Arnold, he was the son of a clergyman, and himself once planned to take the orders. He wrote some of the best American student songs, was interested in the children's theaters, wrote many stories and verses for the young, and made a trip to the Mormon land, of which he wrote interestingly. But above all he tried to be the American De Quincey" (55).
Parry calls him Edward T. Mullen here, and mentions that O'Brien's efforts to recruit in New York led to the publication of his "friendly cartoon" in Vanity Fair. Parry reprints the cartoon on p.54.
Parry mentions that Ada Clare sailed for California on February 3, 1864, "to join Adah Isaacs Menken and to learn the secret of stage triumphs" (28). Clare and Menken met and made friends in California. Parry writes that "Both of them came from the South, there was only one year of difference in their ages, and they were equal in their love of adventure and unconventional life." Parry notes, however, that Menken did not help forward Clare's stage career and sailed from San Francisco to England in April, 1864, leaving Clare behind in California (30).
Parry reprints Nasts's sketch from Harper's Weekly, September 9, 1882, "Thomas Nast on Oscar Wilde's Criticism of American Stoves" on p. 145. Parry also reprints "Low Jinks Cartoon: 'The Poet Lariat Contest'" by Thomas Nast from The Annals of the Bohemian Club, San Francisco, Vol. 3, 1887-1895 p. 223.
Parry writes that as "Bohemianism" moved away from its more scandalous associations of the Pfaff's days, many authors who would previously had nothing to do with Bohemianism felt "safe" contributing to the Philadelphia periodical Bohemia, writing about non-Bohemian topics. In light of this change, Parry writes that "A cartoon by Thomas Nast sent to Bohemia a few days before his death felt a bit lonely in the fashionable company of all this Creme de Boheme" (162).
Parry claims that North's suicide started the Bohmian movement (49).
Parry also notes that Clapp "whispered" to others during this time that North could not stay in a room with the doors open, yet when his body was found in his rooms on Bond Street the doors were open. According to Parry, "It appealed to the contemporary imagination that North was an Englishman, born at sea of a distinguished family, and that his body was to be shipped from New York to his far-off island home. The prissy William Winter, the most virtuous of all the Bohemians, said that the woman of the dead brother's despair was so beautiful that she could 'have inspired idolatrous passion in the breast of even a marble monument'" (49).
Parry mentions that North was the "first enemy" Fitz-James O'Brien made in America (52). Of the "frequent" charges of plagiarism made against the Pfaffians, "the first and most notable" was made against Fitz-James O'Brien and the "Diamond Lens." The accusation was that O'Brien had taken the story from North's papers when North committed suicide. "The idea of the 'Lens' was identical with that of North's unpublished 'Microcosmus,' which story was known to a few friends but was never found in any magazine office or among North's possessions. Even if not true, this charge is indicative of the state of mind of the first Bohemia" (55-56).
Parry writes of the literary movements in New York before the era of Greenwich Village: "Henry Clapp, Fitz-James O'Brien, Ada Clare, and their group were the first organizers writers to insist on transferring contemporary life and literature from the prison of salons to the freer air of saloons. They upheld the memory of Poe, they helped enthrone Whitman, and they prepared the path for much of the unorthodox that was to follow in American letters" (xiii).
Parry also writes that in the Pfaffians' attempts to "emulate Poe's distrust of mankind and his despair of the world," O'Brien "tried to borrow the mystery and horrors of Poe's imagination for his own stories" (9).
Parry mentions that O'Brien died of lock-jaw as a result of a battle-wound suffered during the Civil War and was one of several Pfaffians who died or did not return to the saloon after the Civil War (32).
In Clapp's recollections of the pre-war Pfaff's, he remembered that "O'Brien glowed with fun and poetry" (46).
Parry mentions O'Brien's reputation as the "chief fighter" at Pfaff's (50-51). O'Brien fought over everything from literature to the right of the way on the sidewalk, often ending up in the Jefferson Market jail: "Thus, as early as the 'Fifties, Greenwich Village received its first escapader, even if during his sojourn he had to stay under lock and key" (51). "[h]e fought friends and strangers with his tongue, pen, and fists. He had reckless but obscure love affairs. He played the gentleman by returning loans whenever magazines paid him for his news-topic poems, by pressing money, when he had it, into the palms of needy friends even if they did not ask for it, by concealing the names of his amours, and by shaking hands with his adversaries when the bouts were over" (52).
Parry writes that O'Brien's brawls and "stormy career" are reason enough to devote attention to him (51).
O'Brien's American experience lasted only a decade - he arrived in the United States in 1852, was one of the first Pfaffians to enlist in the Civil War, and his body was returned to New York in early 1862 (51). Parry speculates that it was not the subject of the conflict that attracted O'Brien, but his nature as a fighter (50).
Parry quotes O'Brien's anonymously-written obituary from Harper's Weekly, April 26, 1862: "Though of foreign birth and education, he so moulded his genius to the land in which the best years of his life were passed, that he was more thoroughly American than most writers of native birth and training" (51-52).
Parry explains O'Brien's Americanization by his Irishness, mentioning that he had contributed to Leisure Hour and Dickens' Household Words and was briefly a "worshipper" of Dickens, but soon "came under the spell of Poe, imitating his weird style and themes" which Parry feels at least partially influenced O'Brien to make plans for America (52).
According to Parry, when he decided to become "respectable" during the backlash against Bohemians "Stoddard tried to wean such valued friends as O'Brien, Stedman, and Taylor from the dissolute circle. O'Brien resisted successfully, and died tragically, but Stedman and Taylor were easily led into respectability" (59).
Parry describes O'Brien's phyisical appearance: "O'Brien's physical appearance helped him materially with the American editors. He was of middle stature but of athletic build and boyish sprightliness. His skin was fair and smooth except for certain scars of pugilistic origin, and these in a poet looked romantic enough. His eyes were a fine blue, his hair was wavy and brown, and his heavy mustache almost concealed his small chin. His voice was melodious yet convincing, but William North, the first enemy he made in America, called him a braggart, a borrower, and a bully" (52).
Parry notes O'Brien's fame for borrowing money to give parties at Delmonico's and suppers at Pfaff's and then not inviting the source of his money to the affair (52).
O'Brien appears to have been frequently without money or a place to stay, and often turned to freinds when he was thrown out of bars and his lodgings. According to Parry, the topics of his poetry included finishing schools, tenement houses, the death of Elisha Kane, "and many other contemporary topcsi, often with his tongue in his cheek." Parry also mentions that while he loved boxing, O'Brien's "The Prize Fight" was a protest against the nature of the sport, written for an editor that commissioned a poem that would move his "genteel lady-readers" and paid O'Brien well. According to Parry "O'Brien was having much fun while doing things against his own credo" including selling his story "The Diamond Lens" and others to the Atlantic Monthly despite his disparagement of the journal at Pfaff's (52-53).
When the Civil War broke out he first enlisted in the New York Seventh Regiment, which was sent to defend Washington. However, it turned out that the regiment was full of "dandies" from Delmonico's who were not interested in fighting and the whole regiment was sent back to New York. In New York, O'Brien attempted to raise his own regiment, known as the "McClellan Rifles" with aspirations of becoming a colonel. O'Brien became involved in recruiting, leading to the publication of a "friendly cartoon" by Edward T. Mullen in Vanity Fair. During this time, O'Brien shot a Union soldier in his camp during an argument, and would have most likely been shot by the members of his own squad had the North not been desparate for officers. Due in large part to his victim's recovery O'Brien was aquitted. Before his soldiers could get revenge, O'Brien was shot in a hand-to-hand skirmish on February 6, 1862. According to Parry, he rode for hours with a hastily bandaged wound and spent several weeks in agony on his cot before succumbing to lockjaw on April 6, 1862, in Cumberland Maryland (53-54). Of O'Brien's death, Parry writes that "At least one garereteer in a group must die as a soldier of fortune, away from friends and loves. This tradition was inaugurated in America by Fitz-James O'Brien" (50).
Parry also mentions that before his death, O'Brien had spoken of writing the "Great American Novel" and had begun writing notes (33). O'Brien used an acecdote Clapp told at Pfaff's about Albert Brisbane's glass eye in his story "The Wondersmith" (45). Parry also mentions that O'Brien was the subject of the "first and most notable" of many charges of plagiarism made against the Pfaffians. It was alleged that O'Brien had taken the "Diamond Lens" from North's papers when he committed suicide. The idea O'Brien's story is identical to North's unpublished "Microcosmus" which was known about by a few of his friends but was never found in manuscript form among his belongings or in any newspaper or magazine office (55-56).
Of O'Brien's other writing, Parry writes that "In his short story, 'The Bohemian,' O'Brien gave some detailed and fantastic accounts of love as it was practised in the garrets of New York. Philip Brann, the daring Bohemian, hypnotized the lady-love of a friend. Then the two took her to Coney Island to search for hidden treasure. The treasure was unearthed, but poor Annie died in the arms of her lover" (56).
Written during the period in which he frequented Pfaff's, O'Brien's "The Bohemian" was published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in July 1855. The tale satirizes artistic bohemian Philip Brann whose greed ultimately destroys friend Henry Cranstoun's fiancé, Annie Deane, and leads him to reconsider the character of true wealth. O'Brien also displays his satirical talents in a series of seven articles on "counter jumpers" in which he mocks male shop-clerks. Two parodies of Walt Whitman appear in this group in the spring of 1860 including "Counter-Jumps. A Poemettina.-- After Walt Whitman" which playfully imitates the structure and voice of Whitman's "Song of Myself." It jibes, "I am the essence of retail. The sum and result of small profits/ and quick returns," finishing with "I sound my feeble yelp over the woofs of the World" (qtd. in A. Parry 183).
Parry notes that one of the New Bohemian's most glaring mistakes when referring to the Pfaffian's was to mis-name O'Brien "Fitz-John" (186).
Parry gives a detailed description of him: "Pfaff was a German from Switzerland and he "was rotund of form though devoid of excessive fat. His big head was crowned with short and bristling hair and lit up by a silent yet jovial smile. Like most proprietors of cafes chosen by literati for their headquarters he was not learned but he knew how to behave. He took pride in his beers and wines and still more in his bookish and eccentric clientele. Shrewdly, he was aware of the profitable growth of his reputation as a patron of American belles lettres. He fostered his fame unobtrusively and skillfully. He drank to the toasts of his guests at their invitation. He listened to their tales and verse with a sweet and quiet dignity. He kept his cellar open into the dawn for the sake of a handful of Bohemians engaged in a verse-making contest. He helped in various ways those of his guests whose finances temporarily ebbed. So grew his fame. In New York, by the end of the 'Fifties, his cellar was a landmark viewing with Castle Garden, Tammany Hall, and P.T. Barnum's Museum" (A. Parry 23).
Parry writes that Pfaff accepted his female clientele like Ada Clare and others associated with the group "with a bland smile, paying no attention to the shocked gossip on the street. He was a respectable man of business, but not a one of the customers remarked about Pfaff and his helpers: 'The Germans are not shocked when a woman enters a restaurant'" (A. Parry 21).
Parry claims that it was Pfaff's coffee that intitially attracted Clapp to his saloon. Parry also writes about Pfaff's set-up for the writers who frequented his restaurant:
"The parade passed directly over the heads of the exalted, for in a niche with a vaulted ceiling under the Broadway sidewalk Herr Pfaff had installed a long table especially for his literary and artistic friends. The main room of the saloon was filled with small tables. Here sat other customers, the uninitiated, but here Walt Whitman often took his place, slightly withdrawn from the exalted, the better to watch them, or to have an intimate talk with one or another of them, unhampered. Pfaff presided over the bar, keeping a watchful eye on the few uneven stairs which led to the crowded sidewalk, ready to greet a distinguished visitor" (22). Parry also notes that "Though solid silver and good china were used in Charlie's establishment and sanitary appearances were generally maintained, certain finicky visitors described the chairs as uncomfortable, and the whole basement as dingy. John Swinton was wont to remark that it smelled atrociously, but he praised Pfaff's coffee and sweet-breads" (22).
Pfaff's food appears to have received mixed reviews; he was known for the cheese he served, his cakes, and his fried breakfast fish. Parry also mentions a poet who found Pfaff's breakfast eggs to be the best he'd ever had. Howells enjoyed Pfaff's German pancakes, while another historian claimed that the suppers were bad, "particularly when eaten late at night." Parry writes, however, that "Charlie's liquids were praised alike by the friends and foes of Bohemia. His excellent beer was the pride of the establishment, but he also offered sound ales, red clarets, and cool champagnes. By some contemporaries he was called the best judge of champagne in America. His barrels and bottles held white and red burgandies, Graves and Haut-Graves, Clos Regent and Bonnes Sauternes, Beaune and Volnay, Bonnes-mares and Romanee, sherries and maderiras, Malvoise Royal and Cama de Lobos de Joa Vicente de Silva" (22-23). Visitors were served by "Buxon Saxon girls" and a few male waiters (23).
According to Parry, Pfaff's name was "immortalized in much of the sweeping verse and cryptic prose published in the Saturday Press. Whitman and Arnold are given as two notable examples of those who wrote poems about Pfaff's. The Saturday Press was jokingly referred to as the "house organ" of Pfaff's (23-24). Pfaff advertised in the Saturday Press when Clapp tried to revive it after the Civil War and drew a comment from the World that "Mein Herr was really the managing editor" (32). During this period, Pfaff added a garden and a mural that he advertised as a "beautiful landscape." The mural was defaced by one of the patrons with the seemingly ominous statement: "C. Pfaff and die!," especially in light of the former Pfaffians who were being mourned after the war (32). Pfaff called his restaurant
It is rumored that the American tradition of the surprise party originaate at Pfaff's (Parry notes that this was reported several years after Pfaff's popularity in the New York Herald.) (26). Parry mentions that when Whitman visited Pfaff at his new location on Twenty-fourth street, they drank glasses of champagne to the departed Bohmians, toasting Ada Clare first (37). Parry writes:
"In August, 1881, as noted above, Walt came to Mahattan and after an absence of two decades, took breakfast at Pfaff's, now in a new place in Twenty-fourth Street. Old Charlie had kept pace with the times and moved North as the city's center crept upward. He recognized Whitman and was glad to see him. They talked with feeling of Ada Clare, O'Brien, Clapp, and other Bohemians of the old days. 'And there,' recorded Whitman, 'Pfaff and I, sitting opposite each other at a little table, gave a remembrance to them in a style they would have fully confirm'd, namely, big, brimming, fill'd-up champagne glasses, drain'd in abstracted silence, very leisurely, to the last drop'" (42-43).
Pfaff died in 1890, and his death received some attention. Parry quotes Stedman's remarks to the Herald about Pfaff's former customers:
"They were a clever, hard working set--some of them were brilliant fellows...If many of these men were living now, with equal wit and romance and ambition in their way, they would be in society, have cheerful homes, belond to clubs...No other such list of names that I remember could show such a death-roll of fifteen years from that period...If there had been a Century, a Cosmopolitan, and a score of other paying magazines, I suppose that Clapp, Arnold, O'Brien and the rest would have been as 'conservative' as our modern authors, and would have dined above-stairs, and not under the pavement...Clapp, Wilkins, O'Brien and the rest have a lot of beer and pipes ready to welcome Pfaff over there, I suppose, for he was a generous host to them all" (61).
Parry writes that for America, Poe "a significant example of [a] morose and mad free spirit." Parry also claims that "When madness, or its minor form, eccentricity, are pretended, Bohemianism degenerates into flamboyancy, into a deliberate pose. Poe and Baudelaire were, perhaps, truer Bohemians than Oscar Wilde and a Greenwich Villager, for there was madness in Poe and Baudelaire" (xii). Parry also writes that the writer of the history of Greenwich Village and Bohemianism in America is "compelled to trace a connecting link between a great genius like Poe and a talented dilettante like Clapp because both of them were called Bohemians and, in fact, Clapp's group gathered in Pfaff's saloon a few short years after Poe's death from alcohol and madness" (xiii). Parry notes that American Bohemianism "began with a tragedy," Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was rarely, and possibly never referred to as a Bohemian in his own lifetime, as the term made its way to the United States near the end of Poe's life. Parry writes that the first mention of Poe as a "Bohemian" occurred several decades after his death, when Stoddard listed Briggs and English as Poe's "Bohemian friends." In 1885, Stedman referred to the period between Poe's departure from Mr. Allan's house and his marriage to "the profligate phase" in his life, something akin to a bohemian phase. Coincidentally, Poe happened to live in the Greenwich Village area whenever he lived in New York since housing was inexpensive; Parry notes that several people have seen this fact and Poe's returns as significant and symbolic (3-4). Parry maintains, however, that rather than pass through a Bohemian phase, "He was born and died a Bohemian, his whole life the truest picture of that phenomenon at its rarest and best" (4).
Parry continues his case for Poe's Bohemianism: "Poe was not a self-conscious protestant. His despair of the world was not a pose. It was natural in all of its manifestations. His whole make-up as man and poet led to it as inevitably as a mighty river leads to a tumultuous sea. Both heredity and environment molded Poe into the torn, mad, unconventional being that he was" (4). Parry continues: "The desire to escape from the painful reality of an uncertain social position has been, in all lands and times, one of the chief reasons for Bohemianism. Poe was the first American refugee of this sort" (5).
Parry remarks on Poe's determined and business-like manner towards drinking and drugs, as well as his family's tendencies towards insanity (6). Parry also notes that Poe was largely an outsider and alone for much of this period: "There were no kindred souls to understand his pain and his desire to soar above it. His companions were temporary because they were common and petty, and there were no higher minds in sight. Like most geniuses, Poe was born out of the bounds of his proper time and country. He was either too late or too early in coming to earth; he was either born too gar to the West or too far to the East" (7). Parry also adds that "There would have been less pain and solitude of spirit for Poe had a Bohemia of high and sympathetic souls existed in his time, a group not too large and not too widely advertised and exploited" (7). Parry writes that since Poe did not have this group, he instead laid the foundation for the subsequent American Bohemian movements.
Parry credits Poe with beginning in "America the tradition of literary hoaxes, of vitriolic criticism with a frankly personal tinge and twist, of making taverns into rendezvous of arts, and of dying drunk and delerious in a gutter, an attic, and the backroom of a saloon. Before Poe, literature might have been the profession of the starved, but the starved never ceased to be genteel. Before Poe, American literati, artists, and actors drew the blinds when they sinned or when they thought they sinned. Poe made his dissolution a public affair, even though, surrounded by drinkers, he managed to remain tragically alone" (7-8). Parry does make it clear, however, that Bohemianism among Poe and his frinds was a "vague phenomenon" and that "In Poe's time, it was not as organized and publicized as it became a few years after his death. There was no king and no queen of literary roamers in his time; there was prime-minister dispensing drinks from behind his idealized and yet profitable counter" (8). Parry also notes that Poe became the "prophet" of "organized Bohemia" during the movements that followed his death and feels that he would have enjoyed this role.
"The first organized American Bohemia that followed the unearthly specter of Poe spoke of him in tones of robust enthusiasm or hushed awe. The imbibers at Pfaff's of the 'Fifties took up Poe's fight against the smugness and prosperity of Boston, making an exception, from among all the New England butts of Poe's hatred, of Emerson only.
"Essentially gay and life-loving, this group tried to emulate Poe's distrust of mankind and his despair of the world. Fitz-James O'Brien tried to borrow the mystery and horrors of Poe's imagination for his own stories. Henry Clapp endeavored to be as sexless and as sublimely morose as Poe, but since Henry was essentially a cynic and a wit he failed, and turned out to be caustically sullen instead -- yet quite sexless. Ada Clare and George Arnold attempted mild melancholy, and the whole group talked of suicide as an idea exit from life. All of them hung on the words of those who had the privilege of meeting and talking with their departed idol. R.H. Stoddard, a sedate and staunch enemy of noisy freedom, used his recollection of an encounter with Poe as a sermon to his young friends on the evils of their mode of life" (9).
Parry notes that the group continued to drink and "[pretend] at melancholy and restless travels, and in drawing charcoal sketches on the walls of their garrets" in imitation of Poe (9). Parry mentions that the Pfaffians "gladly and freely acknowledged their debt to Poe" (9). Parry also notes that most of the writers compared to Poe or influenced by his work were indebted to him and grateful for the comparison (10). Parry claims that it was O'Brien's admiration of Poe that prompted his aspirations for an American literary career (52).
Parry calls the Saturday Press the "first Bohemian weekly of America." Clapp began the paper in October, 1858, and Parry mentions that it was "jestingly referred to as the house organ of Pfaff's." Parry also writes of the paper: "Everybody worth while in contemporary letters seemed to be among its contributors, even though the pay was irregular, small, and at times practically nil. The public gasped at the editorial paragraphs of Henry Clapp. For the first time in the memory of the living, the whiskers of American gods were pulled by a weekly with such nonchalant energy and air of authority." Parry continues, "Often, Clapp and his paper appeared to be naive and hitting at small fry, but on the whole it did valuable spading of American life and spanking of the native arts" (24). Parry also notes that for a time the Saturday Press and the Atlantic Monthly were about equal in prestige, having been started a year apart; Parry quotes Howells on the comparability of the two papers at this time. Parry also notes the use of pen names among several regular contributors as well as the decidedly French influence of the paper in the fueilletons and the general attitude of Clapp and the staff. Parry notes, however, that there "was a hearty American substance to all this French veneer" and mentions that the Saturday Press spent much of its first run praising Whitman and ended its second run with Twain's "Jumping Frog" (24-25).
After the Civil War, Clapp attempted to revive the Saturday Press on August 5, 1865. This publication and the first few issues of the new run were met with critical praise. Pfaff was given advertising space in the paper, and Parry notes that the World joked that "Mein Herr was really managing editor." According to Parry, although she knew she would not get paid for her contributions, Ada Clare "was good to Clapp and his paper" and sent him articles (32-33).
Parry mentions that Charlie Pfaff's "name was immortalized in much of the sweeping verse and cryptic prose published in the Saturday Pres" (23). Parry also notes that during Ada Clare's tenure as "Queen of Bohemia" she helped "to enliven the Saturday Press with her confessions" (26).
Parry mentions that Burroughs met Whitman through Clapp and the Saturday Press. Whitman caught Burroughs's attention when the Saturday Press published "A Child's Reminisence" December 24, 1859. Clapp introduced Burroughs to Whitman at Pfaff's (40-41).
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).
Stoddard is one of several contemporary writers who were neither fans of Whitman nor friends with the poet (41). Parry mentions that Stoddard preferred to hold his literary discussions and poetic contests at his home rather than at Pfaff's and later "publicly derided Bohemianism, trying to disclaim any connection with Pfaff's" (59). Parry quotes Stoddard: "I never went inside the place. Once I walked down the steps and stood at the door. I saw Walt Whitman and others inside, but through diffidence or some other feeling, I did not enter." Parry also writes that Stoddard attempted to "wean" his "valued friends" O'Brien, Stedman, and Taylor away from Pfaff's; "O'Brien resisted succesfully, and died tragically, but Stedman and Taylor were easily led into respectability" (59). Stoddard would later refer to O'Brien as "the best of the Bohemians" (77).
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 Stoddard made the first, if indirect, reference to Poe as a Bohemian when, several years after Poe's death, he referred to English and Briggs as Poe's "Bohemian" friends (3). Parry also mentions that in a similar fashion to the Bohemians who met or interacted with Poe becoming celebrated authorities on their idol, "R.H. Stoddard, a sedate and staunch enemy of noisy freedom, used his recollectoin of an encounter wtih Poe as a sermon to his young friends on the evils of their mode of life" (9).
According to Parry, Swinton often remarked that Pfaff's "smelled atrociously," but he enjoyed Pfaff's coffee and sweet-breads (22). Parry also writes that when Whitman was in Washington, he often thought kindly of Pfaff and wrote to friends to ask after the restaurant owner and his establishment. Swinton responded to Whitman that "Pfaff looked as of yore" (42).
According to Parry, Taylor liked what he described as the "dim, smoky, confidential atmosphere" at Pfaff's because it reminded him of Auerbach's beer cellar in Leipzig. Parry quotes Taylor: "mild potations of beer and the dream breath of cigars delayed the nervous, fidgety, clattering-footed American hours" (22). Parry mentions that Taylor and Stedman were among the "valued friends" Stoddard "weaned" away from Pfaff's and into respectability. During this time period, Taylor rarely visited Pfaff's and "it was not until some twenty years later that he overcame his faint-heartedness sufficiently to sentimentalize Pfaff's in Echo Club, and Other Literary Diversions" (59).
Taylor was among the contemporary writers who were not fans of or friends of Walt Whitman (41).
Parry mentions that the second run of the Saturday Press ended by "introducing Mark Twain and his 'Jumping Frog' to the Atlantic coast and actually starting the snowball of his nation-wide fame" (25). Twain is also mentioned as a contributor to the Golden Era (29). Twain and Bret Harte would be made honorary members of the California Bohemian Club in 1873 (219).
Vedder is mentioned by Parry as one of the frequenters of the Tile Club in the 1880s.
According to Parry, the first time Ward entered Pfaff's, his "cicerone reassured him: 'Don't be afraid, they won't hurt you. These are Bohemians. A Bohemian is an educated hoss-theif!'" Parry contends that this is precisely the reason why Ward did fear them, as "more than one of them tried to mount a Pegasus that did not belong to him" and there were frequent claims of plagiarism made about the members of the group (55). Charles Godfrey Leland was later rumored to have been a frequenter of Pfaff's and to have introduced Ward to the beer cellar and the Bohemians; however, he had a "restraining wife" during this time and he refuted these claims when they were made in an article in an 1871 Revue de Deux Mondes of Paris (152).
As an example of Clapp's "bon mots" Parry gives the following anecdote: "In the Summer of 1863, lingering with Artemus Ward at Pfaff's bar, Clapp saw a telegram from California just handed to the embryo lecturer: 'What will you take for forty nights in California?' Clapp puckered his bushy eyebrows and advised: 'Brandy and soda, answer them.' Artemus did as advised, and the answer was the sensation of the country, crowding out even anti-Rebel jokes from the tops of the newspaper columns" (45).
Parry writes that part of the significance of the first Bohemian movement in New York is because it provides a "transitory background" for Whitman that has been underexplored (xiii). Parry mentions that Whitman was one of several frequenters of Pfaff's who wrote poetry about the saloon (24). Parry also writes about the Saturday Press's role in helping to promote Whitman; "The Saturday Press began its career by pioneering the praise of Walt Whitman into the sceptical ears of his contemporaries" (24-25). Parry also writes that Whitman did not rejoin the group after the Civil War; Parry claims he was "too saddened by his hospital service to return to Bohemian merriment" (32). Parry does a brief review of what Boynton and Rickett have said about Whitman's Bohemianism and his time at Pfaff's. Parry also mentions that while in Washington Whitman often reflected upon Pfaff's fondly and wrote to friends to ask about Pfaff and other friends from that group. Parry notes, however, that the Pfaffian who made the most valuable and lasting impression on Whitman was Clapp and quotes Whitman's remarks to Traubel about Clapp (42-43). Parry also mentions that "Walt Whitman probably drank nothing stronger than buttermilk in Charlie's basement" (68).
Parry mentions Whitman's admiration of Ada Clare and his estimation of her as the "New Woman born too soon." Parry also notes that she was among the group of women who were Whitman's "sturdiest defenders and upholders" and about whom Whitman also said that "Some would say that they were girls little to my credit, but I disagree with them" (14). Parry also mentions Whitman's anger at Ada Clare when her romantic affairs became more public and her behavior became more scandalous and widely discussed (27). Parry claims that Ada Clare is the first person Whitman and Pfaff toasted when they drank to the memories of the departed Bohemians when he visted Pfaff's Twenty-fourth Street restaurant in August 1881 (37).
Parry writes that at Pfaff's, rather than seat himself in the niche under the vaulted ceiling that Pfaff set up for his literary customers, Whitman often sat in the main room of the restaurant with the "uninitiated." Parry writes that here Whitman sat "slightly withdrawn from the exalted, better to watch them, or to have an intimate talk with one or another of them, unhampered" (22).
Parry writes that at Pfaff's Whitman "was indisputably part of the scene, but he only sat, watched, and was worshipped; no one thought of designating him chief of the Bohemians" (38). Parry also writes of Emerson's visit to Pfaffs's with Whitman during which Emerson "called them noisy and rowdy firemen and could not understand what bonds they claimed with Walt" (38). Parry notes that "Emerson did not know that Walt was aware of his superiority to all these ruffians, but that he loved adulation and found plenty of it at Pfaff's. There he was the shrine to which Clapp brought the faithful" (38). Parry also mentions that Whitman "mistook Howells for a member of the faithful and warmly shook his hand as the chaste young Ohioan was angrily leaving the cellar" (38). Parry notes that this was not an unusual pose for Whitman to take as "he liked to play his role of a benevolent celebrity and shake strangers' hands with hearty magnificence." Parry continues, "A legend has it that once, at Pfaff's, espying a young man who worshipped him from a distance, he crossed the floor to the stranger's table and allowed majestically: 'You may speak to me if you wish'" (38). Parry also mentions that there are portraits of Whitman, "as he patron-sainted it at Pfaff's" (38).
Parry writes that Whitman desired all of his friends to visit him at Pfaff's, most likely to show off his personal celebrity at the saloon. Parry claims that this is most likely why Whitman often brought young house-surgeons he met while visiting at New York Hospital down to Pfaff's with him in the evenings. Parry also writes that Clapp was especially good at maintaining and supporting Whitman's celebrity (and his self-image of his celebrity) at Pfaff's and among the Bohemians (39). Parry writes that Clapp often made jokes at Whitman's expense, but that they were often in good humor. Parry also mentions that Clapp and the Saturday Press "brought upon themselves the ire and admiration of the day for their insistence that Whitman was greater than Longfellow" (39-40). Parry discusses the support Whitman got from the Saturday Press through the reviews, articles, parodies, and poems printed by Clapp. Parry also mentions that Clapp often confided his worries about the paper's finances to Whitman in their correspondence (40).
Whitman met Burroughs through Clapp and the Saturday Press. Burroughs first took notice of Whitman when the Saturday Press published "A Child's Reminiscence" on December 24, 1859. The two men were introduced by Clapp at Pfaff's (40-41). Parry also mentions that Whitman made enemies in Aldrich, Witner, Stedman, Stoddard, and Taylor through his comments to them or his behavior (41).
Parry writes about the argument at Pfaff's between Whitman and Arnold: "One night at Pfaff's he [Arnold] made the error of toasting the Southern arms. Walt sprang up. For the moment he forgot his godlike benignity and broke out with a speech of patriotic vehemence. Arnold retailiated by bending his form over and across the table and pulling hard at that Jovian brush which Howells like the best of all the Pfaffian scenery. The rivals were separated, and it was about then that Whitman shook the Pfaffian part of Broadway's dust from his soles forever. Years later he was to say about his role at Pfaff's: 'I was much better satisfied to listen to a fight than take part in it'" (41-42).
Parry writes that while O'Brien was dying of his badly bandaged wound that would result in lockjaw, "Walt Whitman was not yet a war nurse; he still rode with the stage-drivers of Manhattan and viewed life from Pfaff's basement...there was no one, kind and understanding, to take care of the dying Bohemian in his blood-stained uniform" (54).
Wilkins wrote for the Saturday Press as "Personne" (24). After the Civil War, Wilkins was one of many who did not return to Pfaff's; he died of pneumonia (32). One of Clapp's memories of the high point of Pfaff's was "when Wilkins, like the maiden in the fairy tale, opened his lips and spake diamonds" (46).
Parry writes that Wilkins was the "pioneer" American "to die of stricken lungs in a damp garret while heavy rain and wind beat upon the roof." Parry continues: "He was the dandy of the crowd, and in this respect, too, he was a pioneer. For what American group of Bohemians since the Pfaff days has ever lacked its neatly dressed and well-mannered few to contrast with the wild hair, ways, and rags of the rest? Wilkins was the dramatic critic of the Herald and wrote one-act comedies. At one time, he was the pet of James Gordon Bennett, at another of Mme. Cora de Wilhorst, the opera singer. It was she who groomed him in his dress and manners and saw to it that the Pfaff crowd did not spoil him too much. But when, in the Spring of 1861, Ned fell ill none of his grand friends came to comfort him. It remained for the lowly Pfaffians to read Carlyle and the Bible to him in his closing hours" (50).
Parry calls Winter "the most virtuous of the Bohemians" and mentions that Winter wrote that the woman who North was rumored to have committed suicide over could "have inspired idolatrous passion in the breast of even a marble monument" (49).
Parry mentions that despite his "garrulous" nature and that he knew Ada Clare well and wrote in detail about the other Pfaffians, Winter "published nothing about her save a short obituary [in the Tribune] and a poem." Winter was also on the coroner's jury that investigated Clare's death (15-16). Parry reprints Winter's "Ada" and notes that as he "extolled her golden qualities" he also had to explain his relation to Clare because the poem was signed in his own name. Winter wrote of his relationship to Ada Clare: "A brother's place in that fond breast was mine to hold." Parry also mentions that Winter was pleased that Wilkie Collins wrote to him about how much he enjoyed his "Ada" (36).
Parry mentions that Winter noted that "in temperment and mentality Clapp was really more of a Frenchman than an American." Winter also compared Clapp to Voltaire, at least, in looks (24). Parry writes that in his later days, Clapp most likely had doubts about remaining alive and in the company of former "mediocre" Pfaffians such as Winter, "who tried to make the American theater very respectable" (47). Parry continues with a mention that in the 1870s and 1880s, when several Pfaffian's became "respectable," "Winter became important and made money writing sentimental nonsense about the theater for the Tribune" (61).
Parry mentions that Winter and Stedman were among the Pfaffians who disliked Whitman and did not enjoy his presence at the saloon. Parry cites Whitman's "gross bigotry" and Winter's dislike of Whitman's birthday toast of "That's the feller!" for Clapp (39). Despite this, Parry writes that during the promotion of Leaves of Grass in the Saturday Press, "Even Willy Winter made a turn-about in his smoldering enmity for Walt and published in the Saturday Press of October 20, 1860, a serious poem in the Whitmanian style. Perhaps Clapp, implacable to wavering adherents in his own camp, ordered Willy to prove, in this fashion, his allegiance to him and Walt" (40).
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015