Born and raised in England, Thomas Butler Gunn first worked as an illustrator for the famous British satirical journa
Covers the period from October 1861 to February 1862.
Gunn mentions Ada Clare's admiration for Frank Bellew: "Once when he [Bellew] and Cahill had dropped in at Pfaff's, on their way to dinner at Bellew's, he remarked with a half-laugh that Mrs. B. didn't like his going thither, as she had heard that 'Ada Clare' had said he was the handsomest man she knew &c. It was a hint not to speak of the visit to Pfaff's, which of course Cahill adopted. It can hardly be a happy household that at 21st street."
Gunns says Mrs. Waud doesn't like Allie Eytinge: "After a long time they returned, finding us at supper in the basement. They both looked well, "Mrs Waud" particularly so. They had got a letter from Alf, through Hayes. He expressed himself "disgusted – as usual." Sol Eytinge has visited at the house, and Allie – once; Mr and "Mrs Waud" returning the compliment. Mrs W. doesn't like Mrs Eytinge. She was very cordial to me, invited me to stay till the morning and the time passed rapidly enough till 11, when I left and returned to New York, past midnight." (14).
Gunn includes newspaper engravings of Thomas Nast, MCLenan, and Anthony, drawn by Sol Eytinge (16).
Gunn describes a feud between Eytinge and Nast, regarding their wives: "Apropos, I once ventured a prediction that the marriage would affect Nast's relations with Sol Eytinge; it has come true. There were propositions that the wives of the friends should become acquainted with each other and Maggie (she has dropped the name of "Allie" entirely, now) wrote a letter to Mrs. Tommy Nast, possibly inviting her to Brooklyn. Sally rather verdantly replied by saying that she didn't think her mother would approve of her acceptance, therefore &c., &c. Next day, at the office of the "Illustrated News," Sol (doubtless pulling his moustache and scowling) produced another letter from Maggie. "I shall not take it!" said Tommy (accurately informed of the contents of his wife's note; and having, in addition, devoted himself to inquiries about Mrs. Sol's character, with odorous results): "the letter did not require any answer!" Sol, indignant, despatches his wife's reply by a boy, to Nast's residence. Tommy immediately sends off another, with instructions to Sally not to receive any letter during that day. But either Sol's messenger did outrun that of Tommy, or Sally's curiosity induced disregard of marital behests; she got the letter and read it. Only one sentence has reached us: "I was amused," wrote Mrs. Maggie Eytinge, "at your reason for &c., &c., considering the character of those with whom you have been intimately associated with during the last year or two!" Since then a coolness has occurred between Nast and Eytinge. Poor Sol! what fierce nocturnal reminders he must be subject to! What a Nemisis this Allie Vernon business has involved more than one in! Jim Parton told Haney this: I can imagine how the latter felt at the prospect of Allie Vernon's introduction to Sally" (184-185)!
Gunn describes a nominal reconciliation between Eytinge and Banks: "Promiscuous chat and drinking. I noticed Sol Eytinge, Glover, Rosenberg, Bateman, (father of the Bateman children, a Baltimorean and rampant Secesh), Ottarson and others present. Sol stood with his back to the counter, looking soggily drunk and being talked to. I learnt from Banks that a nominal reconciliation has taken place between them, through Bellew. They have not spoken to each other for six years, since Bank's brutal or crazy insult at the expense of Sol's "devilish pretty sisters." Banks says he didn't care about the reconciliation – Sol did nothing but talk sarcasm to everybody. Poor Sol" (248)!
Gunn describes a conversation with Fred Watson about Mrs. Norris and Charles Gayler: "This Fred Watson, as he calls himself, is a lewd little knave; this evening he got to telling stories of his boarding-house amours and the like; how he lay with a landlady and had to pay no board for nine months; how he lay with two sisters, one a girl of fifteen or sixteen, both knowing each others pudicity [sic] and simultaneously being whored - and more of the same sort. He and Abrams, once of the Sunday Courier, were fellow boarders in the sty of concupiscence, the scene of these possible nastiness. Watson was privy to the amour of Abrams with the Mrs Norris whom Billington had to do with subsequently; indeed, in conjunction with Gayler, he was present at the affecting parting between the pair, when Abrams went to London for the first time. Mrs Norris, alias Green (for she was known under both names) – whom Watson eulogizes Priapishly, exacted the lust of Gayler, who wanted to return home with her, but she, disliking his appearance, entreated Fred to enter the carriage and order the driver to proceed, as she didn't want that 'big red-faced man' to know her address. Gayler says Watson, resented this; at his, Watson's expense. In his talk of the women Watson evidently wished me to infer that he had shared her favors. He has known Billington for some time, and, with Abrams, lived next door to him, when he (Billington) moved from this house to Beach Street, near Hudson, where I once visited him. Watson says Gayler is married to the woman he lives with; I have chronicled his story elsewhere. Gonzalo's kingdom – all hores [sic] and knaves!"
Laura Keene's Theatre is used as a reference point in a newspaper clipping: "THE ORIENTAL SALOON is next to Laura Keene's Theatre, and indicated to the public by a painting in oil, representing a gigantic odalisque, in company with sundry impossible palm trees, over the entrance, together with posters, lamps and transparencies, setting forth the names of performers in big letters."
Gunn and his group joined Mullen at the counter of Crook and Duff's, "To F. Leslie's, met F. Bellew there; together to Crook and Duff's, where we found Mullen, on a stool at the counter, taking a solitary oyster stew. He joined us, talked a curious blending of b'hoy-filibuster and artist, called Bellew 'Frank,' and assumed an amusing familiarity. Bellew gave him a sketch and notion to carry out for 'Vanity Fair.' Mullen was a lieutenant(!) in the regiment to which O'Brien belonged; has loafed in uniform all the summer, has now thrown off both it and his volunteering. He is 'no abolitionist,' he says. We walked up Broadway together" (118).
Gunn annotates a newspaper sketch, "'Artemus Ward' by Mullen" (150).
Mullen informs Gunn that Howland went to Europe" "Howland went off to Europe again on the day intended, as I learnt from Mullen, who made his acquaintance at Pfaff's. Among the things mentioned by Howland to me, during his call in company with Yewell, was that Stone had gone into the army" (169).
Gunn includes a newspaper engraving of Nast and McLenan from the "Illustrated N.Y. News": "Drawn evidently by Sol Eytinge and both very good, only the relative size is hardly preserved, Nast looking shorter and podgier. Put a little more conceit in the look and it's Tommy to the life" (16).
Sally and Nast run upstairs when Gunn arrives at the Edwards': "To 745, to join Haney. Saw Nast and Sally run off upstairs (after a look-in after church) as Mat let me in" (44).
Gunn describes Mr. and Mrs. Nast's entrance at a dinner event: "A vigorous ring at the street door bell denotes Mr and Mrs Tommy Nast, whereat Matty (who has being chatting with me) surmises that their dinner hasn't turned out a success. Sally rustles in, bends over and kisses pap as he sits in his chair, welcomes Hayes and subsides into conversation. Nast enters fatly and facetiously (he seems to do the buffoon business on most occasions, now,) looking exceedingly like such a German Jew as you would look for in the player of the ophocliede in a brass band. His hair is very black and worn rather long, his face flabby. Mat tells me the pair "have a servant, now." We talk for half an hour, standing or sitting, then Hayes and I go off to W" (58).
Nast declines Gunn's invitation for drinks: "Meantime Waud was talking with Nast who had come in with Eytinge. As drinks had just been ordered I invited Tommy to join us; he declined civilly, on the plea that he had to go to work" (71).
Gunn describes Nast's performance in a play: "Then followed Punch and Judy, the puppets being replaced by living persons, the stage appropriately enlarged. Nast played Punch, Jack, Judy, and the rest of the characters, including devil and hangman. This was but a mode- rate success, for it frightened the children. Punch's voice, too, might have been better, though Nast did the London street hero pretty well" (116).
Nast is mentioned in a poem by Jesse Haney: "There's Nast, who'll paint You Zouave or saint, Or any kind of picter. His better half Will make you laugh At servants who afflict her" (143).
Gunn and Haney talk about the relationship between the Nasts and Edwards: "It seems that neither she nor her husband are very frequent visitors at 745, now; their indifference perhaps amounting to a want of feeling. Nast does not even care to drop in on his daily returns uptown. The girls visit them, persisting in doing so... Since then a coolness has occurred between Nast and Eytinge" (183-185).
Gunn says that Nast and Sally were at the Edwards: "Nast and Sally were present; didn't mix much with the rest, but laughed superfluously at Miss Rogers sayings" (207).
Gunn finds Nast at Strong's store: "The little man [Strong] was chatty, and I walked back with him to his store, where I beheld Tommy Nast, who figures extensively in this week's "Notions." (? Isn't this a sign of decadence in payment on the part of the Ill. News – I have heard of a cutting down of salaries there" (221).
When Gunn visits the Edwards, Ann tells him that Nast is drawing caricatures in the pew at Chapin's: "Ann and her father there; all the rest having gone to bed, the girls tired out with a walk back from the Central Park, in company with their brother, Hayes, Selwyn and Pratt. (?) Ann hadn't been to Chapin's for the reason that "Mr Nast cut up so, making grimaces and drawing caricatures in the pew, that it was impossible to listen" (225).
Gunn includes a newspaper clipping in which Nast is mentioned: "Among the persons who entertain a profound dis- like for John Bonner is the celebrated cartoonist, Thomas Nast Bonner failed to appreciate Nasts power as an artist, and deliberately "sat upon" him, modifying the sketches he proposed, and refusing to publish any of Nasts most powerful efforts. Bonner was pro-slavery, and hence would not tolerate the artist's anti-slavery cartoons" (253).
Gunn attaches a newspaper clipping from the N.Y. Tribune of Henry Neill's death (54).
Gunn describes coldness from Newman: "Saw Mc. Lenan and Newman in the sanctum, when the latter gave me, I thought, a characteristically snobbish greeting. I believe the sweep is greatly injured by Bellew's returning and quietly resuming his former position, to which his unrivalled [sic] abilities give him unquestionable right, to the comparative superseding of Newman's trash. This fellow, with his open-mouthed conceit, his cockney chatter, his interminable fidgetty egotisms, his inordinate childish vanity, was treated with the utmost generosity and courtesy by Bellew, when he first came to this country, and professed great regard both for him and myself, but eagerly and indecently dropped us when he supposed we could be of no use to him, and as ravenously pursued those whom he thought might be. I saw him again at Frank Leslie's, whither I went straight way (finding Bonner absent) where Newman came in while I was talking with John A. Wood (who had heard of O'Brien's affair with varying details.) Poor Banks coming in, I heard Newman commence at him with, 'I got your letter and –' whence I infer Banks had addressed to this mean and selfish quarter supplications for 'pecuniary assistance'" (44-45).
Gunn questions his quick judgement of Newman: "In Nassau Street, at Strong's door met Newman, who was quite friendly. He spoke about his family at home, and I thought that his anxiety about them might have made him selfish and that I may have done him injustice in my hasty estimate. While we talked McLenan and Joe Harper came along and the first entered Strong's without returning my how are you. In explanation, I thought of something communicated incidentally by Bellew; that Newman and McLenan had made common cause against him, resenting his return from England. I suppose Mac regards me as an accessary [sic]" (82).
Gunn journals about "Captain" O'Brien: "Cahill has seen 'Captain' O'Brien once in the city, he having come up from the 'camp' of the Mc.Clellan Rifles on Staten Island, as John Wood told me, also. Cahill had a curt interview with O'B., the latter inquiring in his usual agreeable tone of insolence why Cahill hadn't fulfilled a certain agreement about writing puffs for the regiment, for promised but unperformed bucksheesh. O'B. told Wood that he had passed his examination as an officer, which was of an extremely severe and scrutinizing character – of course. Of all the pseudo-Bohemians who bragged of their military ardor, not one has really gone to the war" (26-27).
Gunn writes of an incident when O'Brien shot a man for insubordination: "O'Brien has shot a man in the abdomen, for insubordination, outside the limits of the camp and is now in charge of the civil authorities. Bellew did not see him and talks very gravely of the deed, as does his wife. 'Mr. O'Brien,' she says, 'is very much hated by the soldiers.' 'They may hang him!' adds Bellew. I am pretty sure they will do no such thing, albeit he may deserve it; only unlettered homicides are executed in this democritic city; though seeing what the man's life is, I don't think I should affect to sentimentalize if the Baron of Inchiquin were induced with the order of the halter. However as blowing a hole with a pistol-bullet through the stomach of an Irishman, even by another and by a 'literary man,' is hardly a recognized privilege, 'Captain' O'Brien may expiate the indulgence of his humane Celtic temper between four stone walls for a year or two. The deed occurred on Friday night, and Bellew reports that the soldier cannot survive this one" (42-43).
Gunn journals about the talk of O'Brien's homicide: "Fletcher Harper told version of O'Brien's homicide. To Frank Leslie's, saw him and Wood. W. Waud, Berghans and White (all-artists on the paper) came out. With them to Crook and Duff's. Others there; Glover the lewd and foolish-faced; Anthony the engraver (the lower part of whose face is singularly mean and unsatisfactory)and Banks passed out. Bellew in, momentarily. Found him at Haney's five minutes afterwards; out with him. He was going to Staten Island immediately and told me that the man shot by O'Brien was Sergeant to the regiment. Close to the 'Herald' office a man accosted me whom I recognized as Gabay, my fellow-passenger across the Atlantic in the 'Indiana.' He told me he had stayed in Europe eight months. He was born in London, of Dutch parents, and now keeps a cigar-shop at 263, Hudson Street. Across the street I met Shanley who talked of O'Brien, naming the Sergeant and stating that O'B. had exhibited to him (Shanley) a revolver on Friday, saying that he expected to have to use it on that particular person. To Strong's. Saw him; got the last $5 for last chapter of story and stayed chatting with the little man for half an hour or more. He mentioned incidentally things about sundry acquaintances. Talking of O'Brien, Strong, who was with him in the abortive chain-cable laying experiment to Newfoundland, undertaken some four or five years ago, told how upon an old gentleman's objecting to O'B's arbitrarily using his boat to be rowed ashore in, the Irishman bullied him and threatened to throw him overboard. But the senior had a son on board who proposed to do the like to Sir Braggart, who thereupon, in Strong's language 'wilted right down'." (47-49).
Gunn attaches a newspaper clippings regarding the shooting of Sergeant Davneport by O'Brien (52).
Gunn mentions O'Brien's plans to go to Washington: "O'Brien was resplendent in the costume of a U. S. officer, blue-broadcloth suit, red sash and sword. He has no other right to wear it, or to assume his title of 'captain' beyond his 'great expectations' of obtaining a commission in the regular army. The pistolling business has ended his connection with the McClellan Rifles. He talks of going to Washington within a day or two" (86).
Gunn documents Robertson's account of O'Brien's shooting: "Before Boweryem's appearance, Robertson had told me the true story of O'Brien's shooting the man Davenport, which he was well qualified to do, having narrowly escaped witnessing it. Robertson was turned over to the McClellan Rifles with a certain number of that unlucky corps, the British Volunteers, and sojourned at the camp at Factoryville during the summer months. He, an Anglo-Indian and old soldier, saw very little to admire in the state of things. O'Brien was continually drunk, arbitrary and detested by the men; he went about swaggering with a loaded revolver in his belt, threatening to shoot those who disobeyed his orders; 'a dangerous man,' says Robertson. This Sergeant Davenport, an Irishman, an ex-Indian soldier, O'Brien especially hated; he had menaced him repeatedly. Going down to Staten Island from New York, Robertson found himself on board with O'Brien, who, then very drunk, invited Robertson to drink with him, which he did. At Factoryville, Robertson was called away to speak to one of the inhabitants of the place, and on his arrival at the camp, the shooting of Davenport had occurred, during the interval. He found the Sergeant with a pistol-bullet in his body, just above his naval. O'Brien had demanded the man's pass &c, to which Davenport replied that O'B. must know that he had leave to quit the camp – they had returned on the same boat – possibly without much pretence [sic] of respect for his question. Then O'Brien drew his pistol and blazed away with the unquestionable attempt to murder, the servant Sergeant, missing at the first fire, but not so at the second. The soldiers were so exasperated that they would assuredly have killed O'Brien, had he remained in camp that night. He was under temporary arrest; but the man didn't die as was expected; O'Brien's colonel favored the escape of a companion; the press generally reported the thing a la Cahill, against the Sergeant and the man is now limping about Governor's Island, with a bullet in his body, as recently seen by my informant. O'Brien got his appointment on Lander's staff by making interest with Mrs Lander, who was Miss Davenport the actress – the daughter of the 'original Crummles' – indeed the 'Phenomenon' of Nicholas Nickleby. He had puffed her in the papers" (223-225).
Gunn annotates a newspaper clipping about O'Brien being shot, "N. Y. Times. Feb 24" (244).
Gunn describes an encounter with Shanley: "Across the street I met Shanley who talked of O'Brien, naming the Sergeant and stating that O'B[rien]. had exhibited to him (Shanley) a revolver on Friday, saying that he expected to have to use it on that particular person" (48).
Gunn finds Shanley, the temporary editor, at the Vanity Fair office: "Left them, looked into 'Vanity Fair' office, to see Shanley, now installed as editor, during the absence of 'Artemus Ward,' while lecturing" (198).
Gunn describes a conversation with Shanely: "To 'Vanity Fair'; saw Shanley, who said that O'Brien had succeeded in Washington, in getting an appointment on the staff of Colonel Lander – he with whom Hitchings went to the Rocky Mountains. Frank Wood is now in Boston, as 'hagent' for one of the Bateman girls; he did ultra-anglo- phobic foaming of the mouth at the giving-up of Mason and Slidell, 'until,' said Shanley, 'I had to give him a regular d__ning – to tell him he talked like a d____d fool!'" (204-205).
Wallack is mentioned in a newspaper clipping.
A newspaper engraving of Artemus ward (151).
Gunn describes attending Ward's lecture: "A cold hall and a pretty full house, mostly dead-heads. Saw Haney enter and in conversation with F[rank]. Wood, who is 'hagent' for Artemus. Was joined by Jack Edwards. The lecture proved awful rot, stale Joe Millerisms and resuscitated rubbish from Vanity Fair. I heard the great raw laugh of the 'hagent' amid those of others, though the bosh didn't encounter a warm reception. New York audiences are the best-natured in the world I believe; the stuff would have provoked a storm of hisses in London" (152).
Walt Whitman is mentioned in a newspaper clipping of Francis Bellew's death.
Frank Wood appears in a newspaper clipping, complete with Gunn's handwritten annotation.
An electronic version of this text is available in a CONTENTdm viewer. Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.
Born and raised in England, Thomas Butler Gunn first worked as an illustrator for the famous British satirical journa
Ada Clare (whose given name was Jane McIlheny) was born in South Carolina.
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015