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Richard Henry Stoddard

"Richard Henry Stoddard." Outlook. 1903. 216-18.

This obituary of Stoddard discusses his life, work, and poetic career. Four pieces of Stoddard's poetry are reprinted in the text of the obituary.

People Mentioned in this Work

Stedman, Edmund [pages:217]

The obituary reports that Stedman was with Stoddard for the last year and was at his bedside the day Stoddard died. According to the obituary, Stedman defined Stoddard's characteristics as "affluence, sincere feeling, strength, a manner peculiarly his own, very delicate fancy, and, above all, an imagination at times exceeded by that of no other American poet. This last quality pervades his more ambitious pieces, and at times breaks out suddenly in his minor efforts, by which he was best known" (217).

Stoddard, Elizabeth [pages:216,217]

The obituary mentions that her death and the passing of the Stoddards' son appeared to have taken a physical and emotional toll on Richard Henry Stoddard (216).

She married Stoddard in 1851. The obituary describes her as "a woman of great force of intellect and marked individuality of character, a writer of poems and novels of distinctive quality." The writer recalls that some of her stories were reprinted in The Outlook, an event "which recalled their striking excellencies and equally striking defects to a generation which had slight familiarity with them" (217).

Stoddard, Richard [pages:216-218]

The obituary states that Stoddard "has been the senior member of the group of working literary men in the city" since the passing of William Cullen Bryant (216).

The obituary states that Stoddard had not been well physically, and that the deaths of his wife and son appeared to take a toll on his health. According to the obituary, "The son of a sea captain, there was something virile and sturdy about Mr. Stoddard which deepened the pathos of his partial disablement; and the news of his death at his home in this city on Tuesday of last week, while it brought a shock to his friends, also brought a feeling of relief, for it meant escape from very hard conditions, and freedom from wearing limitations" (216).

Stoddard, born July 2, 1825 at Hingham, Mass., was brought to New York at the age of ten, after the death of his father. He attended public school, after which he tried several jobs and trades. Stoddard appears to have been a self-taught writer and poet; he published his first book of poetry in 1849, at the age of 24, called "Footprints." He also contributed to the "Knickerbocker" (216-217).

Stoddard married Elizabeth Barstow in 1851 (217). He worked at the Custom House from 1853 to 1870, during which time he became friends with Bayard Taylor and was "devoting himself regularly and persistently to writing." Stoddard also began reviewing and editing (217).

The writer claims that all of Stoddard's "practice" at writing was "fitting him for his real vocation" as a writer of lyric poetry. "He was an essayist, biographer, and a critic; but first, and foremost, he was a song writer. A working man of letters who for many years lived by his pen, Mr. Stoddard had remarkable command of his literary resources, wide knowledge of books, rapidity of judgment, skill in the use of the various forms of literature; but it was through his lyric poetry that he most distinctively and directly expressed himself" (217).

The writer claims that Stoddard is best known by the "minor pieces" that Stedman mentions, and notes that while he tried several types of writing, "his truest success is to be found in the field of pure song" (217). The writer continues to praise Stoddard's lyric poetry and reprints four of Stoddard's poems: the first is untitled, the second is "Adsum," which talks about Thackeray, the third is "It Never Comes Again," and the fourth are the lines Stoddard wrote and read at the end of an Author's Club dinner held in his honor in 1897 (217-218).

Taylor, Bayard [pages:217]

Stoddard's obituary mentions that during the years Stoddard worked at the Custom House (1853-1870), he struck up an acquaintance and then a friendship with Taylor.