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Diaries, Vol. 8

Gunn, Thomas Butler. Diaries, Vol. 8. Missouri History Museum, 1856.
personal record

Covers the period from April 12, 1856 to the end of October 1857.

People who Created this Work

Gunn, Thomas author

People Mentioned in this Work

Du Solle, John [pages:209]

Gunn sees Du Solle at the Sunday Times Office: "Looked into the Sunday Times Office to thank 'em for their notices of my book. Saw Howard and Du Solle. The Mrs Eller who did the Express article wrote it under the belief that 'Doesticks' was the author!"

Eytinge, Solomon [pages:4(ill.), 8-9, 20, 43-44, 51-52, 58, 63, 65-67, 69, 71, 71-72, 72, 72-73, 74, 75-76, 82, 92-93, 114, 143, 166, 171, 183, 222-225. 230]

Gunn includes a watercolor and pencil sketch of himself by Eytinge: "Sketched by Sol Eytinge. Pretty good all but the nose, which, I think, rather too solid and acquiline" (4).

Gunn describes his feelings of Sol Eytinge: "I have come to an open rupture with Sol Eytinge, which chanced thus. Bellew mounts to my chamber on Saturday night and invites me to go round to the Ornithoryncus, which I do. Banks and Wurzbach there, and anon W Waud and Eytinge. We drank and talked miscellaneously in the bar, a word or two passing 'twixt myself and Sol, after the usual style. For the last three weeks or so – ever since the return of W. W. he has adopted an invidious style of chaff, one part jest, three parts spite, towards me. I recognize the tone of W W in it. Now unless there's an undercurrent of goodwill, this diversion is always a dangerous one. When I am sick in body and mind, Sol, and sometimes others come off, (by the aid of friendly laughs on the art of their clique) comparatively triumphant. But let me be in time and I am as dextrous in word-fence as any of them, and resentment at the secret ill-nature dictating such repeated attacks helps me to a knowledge of where there's a row to be hit. Well – to return to the Ornithorycus. Bellew suggested a move to the club room. I had passed into the inner chamber on my way upstairs, when Eytinge, in reply to Bellews invitation said something about "somebody who wasn't a member having no right to go up! Thinking that I was aimed at, and that a deliberate insult before others was intended I turned back, and asked him what business it was of his. He alluded to W. W. as it proved, and that being explained, I went up. Since that time we don't speak. That subsequent evening was an agreablish one" (8-9).

Gunn says Sol Eytinge and himself are speaking again: "W W and Sol Eytinge have taken a room in Nassau Street, where they work diurnally. Sol and I are on speaking terms again" (20).

Gunn talks of Sol Eytinge's behavior since Will Waud's departure: "Sol is remarkably quiet, and little at home since W. W's departure. He is short of $ and engaged in one of his periodical feuds with Brown, so don't work for him. Has been away visiting his sister for the last day and a half. He has, also, some outstanding squabble with Haney about money – I suppose some loan business. Is working for Frank Leslie, when here, the office in Nassau Street being apparently abandoned. W. W. told me he owed some $80 or so, ere his departure for Boston. I question if he won't be back in New York, failing to make $ enough to return to England. After a home silence of over six months he got a letter from his mother, intimating severe sickness on the part of his father as the reason for cessation of correspondence – if reason it can be called" (43-44).

Gunn describes the decor of the hut, mentioning Sol Eytinge's unfinished drawing: "The hut was ornamented by Stone's lithograph of the Falls, published some two months back. Though not strictly faithful, and rather hugely wrought in point of effect – he's got midnight below, a storm coming on and, woods on fire above – 'tis, (thanks to the lithographer) every way better than I had expected, and so well done that Sol and Alf Waud's chance is smashed. The project was, originally, Alfs but Sol has delayed putting it on stone so long, that this anticipation has occurred. At present a day and half's work would have completed Sol's drawing." (51-52).

Gunn says that Sol Eytinge and Jesse Haney do not speak: "Sol and Haney don't speak, the former being engaged, exclusively, drawing on wood for Leslie. He is very quiet, and occasionally disappears for a day or so – presumably going into the country" (58).

Gunn describes a night with Sol and Wood: "Out to Wild's at night, with Sol and Wood, I leaving them to go to the candy man's and councellor. A rowdy, Rynderish, torchlight procession, boys, black- guards and loafers – in honor of Buchanan. At the Ornithoryncus for five minutes. Sol full of insult and chaff, lager-bearing with Wood and a foolish faced youth" (63).

Gunn describes Sol Eytinge's characteristics and background, including his feud with Jesse Haney: "I learnt this morning the true cause of Haney and Sol's non-intercourse. Sol has conveyed away "Allie Vernon" somewhere, and is now keeping her as his mistress. The husband Covill was yesterday at the Picayune Office, crying, and asking of Levison (who is my informant) the address of Sol's mother. It appears Haney took Sol to Street, and introduced him to Allie, and an intrigue immediately followed, resulting in her abandoning Covill. Hence Sol's championship of Allie against Watson is explained... Sol always speaks affectionately both of father and mother. She is a lady like woman, and has money of her own. There are, too, a number of handsome and accomplished sisters of Sols – one of whom has recently got married. Sol hates his brother in law like the devil" (65-67).

Gunn describes Sol Eytinge's relationship with Allile Vernon: "He (Sol) only appeared once, for a few minutes, going into the basement (of which he retains the key. Allie's trunk is there. I walked down the street in his rear, designing to pass him, leisurely, and thus ascertain whether he would chose to accost me. On gaining Broadway he dived into a Lager Bier cellar. Writing to Alf Waud during the afternoon, principally about cuts to book. 18. Thursday. Nothing but Sol's escapade talked of at the breakfast table. Covill below with a policeman wanting to effect entrance into Sol's room to seize box. I saw him. A puny, frail looking fellow, a mere boy. Mrs Potter, our landlady denominates Eytinge "a villain" and says the husband ought to hire a nigger to assault him. Mrs Levison suggests a pistol. Levison assumes a slightly moral perch, but asserts that anybody would have done the same "if they had the chance." Haney "feels bad about it" as he introduced Sol to the house of Allie's husband" (69).

Gunn says that Haney started to suspect Sol Eytinge's relationship with Allie Vernon: "Josey was a visitor, too, and Master Will Waud "was mad after her." He would fain have anticipated Sol's present rôle, and persuaded her to leave her husband; being only prevented by a hint from Haney, conveyed through Sol. Well, Haney soon began to suspect Sol's game. His absences from the boarding-house, when he was presumed to be visiting his mother at Long Island, were spent at a place in the "English Neighbourhood", at the back of Fort Lee, where Allie had gone to, for a summer week or so. And so the business grew to its present aspect" (71).

Gunn describes Soly Eytinge's agitation that Covill went to see his mother: "To the Post Office, and then, leaving a line of caution for Sol, I returned up town, to dinner. A letter from Hannah. I put this in a distinct sentence, that it may not be soiled with the foetid matter preceeding it. Ought opportunity to her pure self should receive reverence. Now to my puddle again. I sat drawing till sunset, Haney being sick and a bed in his own room, at the other angle of the attic floor, when Sol came up, and asked me about "that d__d mysterious letter," – as he called it. I told him what had taken place at the house, he appearing defiant and excited. "He knew what he had been about!" "He'd done what anybody would have done, under the same circumstances!" I told him Covill had been to his Mother's, and she knew it! "What?" He paced up and down the room uttering a string of blasphemies, and swearing he would murder the "G_d__m stinking little _____!" I never saw any face more frightfully excited. Allie, he said, had gone back to Forsyth Street, and her husband. He had seen Covill. Presently he went down stairs, but did not go in to supper, though the landlady invited him. Subsequently I found him lying on his bed, and presently he asked me to take the cars, go to his mothers residence, and get Clarence to come down at once" (71-72).

Gunn says that Wood is suspicious of Sol's actions: "He [Wood] guessed at some of the business Sol had in hand; and had met Will Waud walking with Josey, as she flaunted in Broadway" (72).

Gunn says that Sol Eytinge asked Jesse Haney for his forgiveness: "Friday. In doors all day. Drawing till sumset. Haney in his room, sickish, half the day. Sol had visited him yester-evening, asked his forgiveness, and "cried like a child." I'm glad that his mother and sisters do not know of it.Haney in his room, sickish, half the day. Sol had visited him yester-evening, asked his forgiveness, and "cried like a child." I'm glad that his mot- her and sisters do not know of it. This I ascertained on my last night's visit, from Clare and his sister's reception. Yet Covill had intimated his intention of seeing Mrs Eytinge, inquiring the address of Haney, and saying he could get it from the Directory, if refused information. The mother's anxiety had been excited by a newspaper description of a drowned man, which she fancied, resembled Sol. Of course I didn't enlighten Clarence." (72-73).

Wood tells Gunn that Covill had discovered Allie Vernon at a hotel and went to get her: "Saw Wood for some ten minutes in the basement, with Sol. During the latters temporary absence, the former told me that Covill had discovered whither Allie had been conveyed – to a Brooklyn hotel – took her back to New York, and when Sol presented himself the landlord "blew him up like h__l" for bringing the woman to his house. Wood had gone over, yesterday, to pay the bill. So ends the great Elopement of Allie Vernon with Sol Eytinge – if it end here" (74).

Gunn says Sol Eytinge received a letter from Covill, asking him to see his wife: "The Thursday evening proved an eventful one for Sol. As I was journeying up the Sixth Avenue, his mother was on the way to Bleecker Street, – under the mis-apprehension of her son's proving to be the drowned German. I fancy Sol's state of mind, as he lay on his bed, when his mother entered the room – he being fully persuaded she knew of his recent proceedings. The gas burnt low and he didn't want her to turn it up – so Wood says. "I've no doubt" added he "that she came to the conclusion that he was infernally drunk." The events of the night didn't end here. At a later period Sol received a visit from no other individual than Covill – who came to beg Mr Eytinge to step round to see his wife, as she was in hysterics &c!!! And Sol went. Wood believes he goes there every day, now" (75-76).

Gunn describes an encounter with Sol Eytinge: "Found Bellew and Haney dining in a restaurant opposite. Anon they left and Sol Eytinge came up. He talked with Alf awhile and then had a row with me, using any amount of foul language. I told him he was an ass and a liar, and anticipated a fight, but the matter ended with talk" (82).

Gunn describes a conversation with Alf Waud, in which he learns more of Sol Eytinge's affair with Allie Vernon: "I've learnt much from him of his brother, and Sol's affair with Allie Vernon. The intimacy is still continued; Sol visiting her. The husband, I suppose, is aware of it, and talks of going west. She don't want to go. Alf thinks Sol would give it up, but she won't let him. Eytinge is much down upon Will Waud, and talked of liking him, if he came to New York. Says that Will took all the money for a co-partnership lithograph, and spent it in a summer suit in order to fascinate Josey. Will declares Sol threw up the job, and he had all the trouble. (Between them I suspect they swindled the landlord of their office rent.) Will stoutly denies the Josey business, asserting that she played Mrs Portiphar to his Joseph, bundled the servant out of the room when he visited her and otherwise hinted accessability. Going out with her, or meeting her in Broadway, he took her down to some refreshment place, and popped upon Sol, Haney, Wood &c. He tells how when they were all in a boat together, Allie, her husband, Josey, Sol and Haney, the two latter cuddling the former, Covill roaring, and Josey sitting near him, she began to complain in her idiotically affected way that there was nobody to make poor ittle Jothey tumforthable, and to wish Mr Somebody wath there &c! Haney and Sol both are positive as to Will's Juanic intentions. I think him as innocent – as they are, and not a whit more. He corresponds with the girl he seduced at Sydenham. She is a mother, lives with her parents, who are – not without reason, I think – down on him. He sometimes thinks – he says – of bringing her to America, and marrying her. Says also that she is a fool, that 'twas her fault, she used to come in his room, that she went in the country and came back with the portrait of a cousin &c &c" (92-93).

Jesse Haney tells a story about a beggar he and Sol Eytinge encountered on the street, demonstrating Eytinge's charity: "It is extremely characteristic instance of Sol Eytinge's charity. Haney was accompanying him up the Sixth Avenue (on Sunday last) when an Irish beggar of very equivocal sobriety accosted them with the customary whine of mendicancy "Gentlemen have pity on a poor &c &c I'm cowld, – and hungry – and naked –! &c &c." "It's all right, – it's all right!" says Sol. "No, gentlemen it's not all right! I am cowld – &c &c!" "I know you'll be drunk and in the gutter in five minutes!" says Sol, giving him a quarter dollar, and moving on. Haney, who had been searching his pocket for cents, had also moved round so as to become over-conscious of the smell of spirits; and as he and Sol continued their walk remonstrated with Sol on his injudicious charity. "But," says Sol, quietly, and perfectly unconscious of the peculiarity of his reply, "he drinks, you know, and hasn't got any money. And I always pity a fellow who drinks!" Farther on some boys informed them that the man was "a regular old sucker!" And on Sol, presently, inviting Haney to drink, it appeared that he had but another shilling in the world" (114)!

Gunn describes Eytinge's lack of reaction to Allie Vernon being in an asylum and his desire to leave the boarding house: "Poor creature. What a life! what a conclusion! Her late paramour Sol Eytinge seems not much troubled by it. He consorts with Cahill, appears but little at table and talks of giving up his basement quarters, but hasn't energy enough to mention his desire to Mrs Potter. I think I might live two centuries in the same house with him without any desire to renew our acquaintance" (143).

Gunn learns of Eytinge's and Cahill's drinking experience in the basement: "To Bellews in the morning and returned to Bleecker Street with him. Kelly and, afterwards, little Edge called in the afternoon, the latter telling me how he had been in the basement, where the fellows (Eytinge and Cahill) had drunk up a quart of gin that morning and Sol was perfectly insensible" (166).

Gunn learns that Allie Vernon is not a lunatic after all, and Eytinge is supporting her: "The report about Allie Vernon's lunacy – Mrs Potter got it from Mrs Levison, who had it from her husband – would seem false. Sol Eytinge "keeps" her, paying for her board at some establishment. He designs leaving here – Mrs P supposes to commence house keeping with his mistress. Her child is with her, also. Her former paramour and Sol's precursor (by one or two) Watson the long-necked, vulturous looking engraver has been doing a new villany, as I read in the papers" (171).

Gunn says that Allie Vernon lives with Sol Eytinge in Brooklyn: "Sol Eytinge has taken a little house in Brooklyn, where he lives with "Allie Vernon" as his concubine. His brother, young Clarence knows of the affair, as he met me in Broadway and began talking of it. Alf Waud doesn't write to me" (183).

Gunn describes a letter Will Waud found from Allie to Haney: "I visit his office some twice a week, generally seeing Sol Eytinge at work there. Apropos of him, or matters in connection with him, while in Boston, of course the "Allie" business was talked over with Will Waud. He, Will, told me, in confidence, that he had once picked up a letter from Allie to Haney, in which she apostrophized him as "her little brown beauty" and invited him to "come to her arms", stating the time when Covill would be out of the way" (224-225)!

Gunn describes Cahill's intentions to break off relations with Sol Eytinge and the Vernon sisters: "Cahill finds visiting Sol's menage a bore and an infliction. Sol is imperious and expects his invitations to be accepted sans demur, resenting it, if otherwise. He went so far as to talk about punching Cahill's head and kicking &c &c because instead of going over to Brooklyn one Sunday to dine with him, Cahill preferred a trip to Sandy Hook or Shrewsbury with Haney. Sol has all the angry suspicions incidental to his position, thinking that his acquaintances fight shy of Allie and Co. Josey wants Cahill to assume the same relations towards her that Sol has to her sister. Allie wouldn't object to it, of course, and perhaps not Sol ––– for he'd got rid of the expense of keeping her. Cahill's been doing a little love making but decidedly objects to anything further, knows that Josey is a fool and a strumpet, and wants to sink the entire concern. So he invites Josey to go to the theatre anticipating Sol will propose accompanying him with Allie. This, he says, he shall demur against, expecting Sol will, then, ask him why he don't keep the girl if he wants her &c &c. Then Cahill will say perhaps he'd better not come to see them any more, and so snap off" (230).

Howland, Edward [pages:27]

Gunn documents Howland being in town: "Called on Arnold at night, and with him to Taylor's hotel, intending to find Howland, who, with Yewel is in town."

Keene, Laura [pages:103, 110-111, 197]

Gunn states, "I see 'Arthur Alleyne' and 'Mrs Alleyne' in the newspaper announcement of the approaching opening of Laura Keene's newly built theatre" (103).

Gunn describes his evening at Laura Keene's new theatre: "Evening to Laura Keene's new theatre, there seeing a most unmitigatedly trashy and successful piece hight Young Mark Lennon's cockney farce the 'School for Tigers' was played afterwards, and Lotty appeared in it" (110-111).

Gunn goes with Bellew and Dillon to Laura Keene's theatre: "Bellew came in the afternoon, wants me to draw for him. Dillon came in the evening. Together to Laura Keene's theatre where we found Hart, Kelly and another. Poor house, trashy pieces. Met 'Doesticks' and another Tribune man subsequently. All at 'the Bank' after the play was over" (197).

Mackenzie, Robert [pages:60]

Banks tells Gunn about Mackenzie's praise of his book: "Dropping in at the Ornithoryncus at night in company with Sol, met Banks who spoke of his book. How Shelton Mackenzie 'very much admired it,' 'liked every bone in it but one,' and 'undertook to find him a publisher'."

O'Brien, Fitz-James [pages:9, 64-65, 125-126, 184]

O'Brien is one of the few people at the "Club": "That subsequent evening was an agreablish one. O'Brien, Banks and one other were the only persons present save Bellew and myself. The 'Club,' as I foresaw, has pretty nearly fizzled out, there being fewer droppers in on Saturday nights than on other occasions. The sure result of trying to put men in harness, and have stated occasions for joviality. This evening there was no singing, no dreary punning, only quiet talk" (9).

Gunn records speculation about O'Brien and money: "With Bellew awhile, walking to Wall Street and talking over mutual misapprehensions of character in the old 'Lantern' time. He appears to have detested me with equal cordiality, then. 'Tis said O'Brien has money left him in Ireland. May be" (64-65).

Gunn talks of two stories in Harper's, which happen to be O'Brien's: "Now I had involuntarily given O'Brien credit for some ability with his pen. Only the other might, when at Bellew's, in conversation I happen to speak to of two insufferably trashy stories in Harper's, when I learnt that O'Brien was the author of them! Had he chanced to have been present I should have come out with my condemnation as largely, never supposing he could have written such trash. After all, one's predispositions to like or dislike are pretty often justifiable" (125-126).

O'Brien tells Gunn there is a warrant for his arrest: "Met O'Brien up at Bellew's one morning, and he spoke of there being a warrant out against him, in consequence of one of a party of fellows, with whom he was dining, having emptied a chamber pot out of window upon some ladies who were passing in Broadway!" (184).

Seymour, Charles [pages:5(ill.)]

Seymour is depicted and described in a newspaper clipping of cartoon engravings.

Whitman, Walt [pages:13, 16-19, 18(ill.), 32, 74, 80, 152-153, 159, 162]

Gunn describes meeting Walt Whitman: "I have met Walt Whitman at [Sara Willis] Partons [aka Fanny Fern], and he has called on me, subsequently. I like the man immensely, and must put him in pen and ink hereafter. My brain is too troubled to do it, now" (13).

Gunn describes his visits to Fanny Fern and James Parton, where he encounters Walt Whitman and Oliver Dyer: "Parton and his wife have just moved to Brooklyn, where she has purchased a house. I used, as wont to drop in at the Waverly on Saturday nights, always finding Walt Whitman there, and sometimes Oliver Dyer. The latter, editor of 'the Ledger,' and the 'John Walter' of Fanny's 'Ruth Hall', is a light haired, dogmatic, conceited man, addicted to talking in a damnably opinionative [sic] man. Walt Whitman is six feet high, nearer forty than thirty, I should say, very much sunburned and rough handed. He is broad in proportion to his height, has a short, partially gray beard and moustache [sic], and a neck as brown as a berry. His face is very manly and placid. He wears a wide brimmed low crowned felt hat, a rough, loose coat, striped shirt (with perceptible red flannel one under it,) no vest, loose short pants, and big thick boots. Thus accoutered I find him lounging on the sofa beside Fanny Fern, his legs reposing on a stool or chair. She is, as usual, very brightly dressed, never in precisely the same costume as the one you last look on. Parton seated in an arm chair, in short, brown, loose in-doors coat, white pants and low shiny shoes, listens, leaning forwards to Walt's talk. Parton has a thin face, sallow complexion, acquiline [sic] nose and darkish hair, which he wears rather long. One of his eyes, too, has a peculiar expression which I take to be partly wall, partly strabismus. He looks a student. Dyer will probably be sitting 'tother side of Fanny, perhaps with his arm resting on the sofa behind her. In the rear, Fanny's elder daughter Grace (Eldridge) will be reading. She is a tall, fair haired girl of 16 or so, with an innocentish face, – very fond of reading. Nelly, the younger is fair and fat, but has moles on her face, and a resentful, wilful [sic] way with her. Fanny has been a handsomish woman, and looks well now but haggard. She is light haired, and when animated her face flushes. Only a triangular bit of her forehead is perceptible, her manner of wearing her hair concealing the rest. Parton appears very fond of her. / He, however, isn't jealous of Walt's kissing her, which he always does on quitting.) Walt talks well – but occasionally too much, being led by the interest with which his remarks are received into monopolizing the converse. I, as a rule, would prefer to play listener, yet it is a violation of good taste to find yourself constrained to become one. And nobody wishes to become a bucket to be pumped into, let the stream be ever so nutritious. He, Walt Whitman is equally a disbeliever in the divinity of Christ, as is Parton. (I put this down simply as a fact, sans depreciation of faith or lack of it.) I have met Fry there, one of the Tribune men" (16-19).

A newspaper engraving of Walt Whitman (18).

Gunn describes his evening with Walt Whitman: "Met Walt Whitman in Nassau Street, and at my suggestion, to a Lager bier cellar, where we found Welden, Strong and another. Talked awhile, till they left. Anon we followed, crossed to Brooklyn and had a swim at Gray's bath" (32).

Gunn recalls walking with Walt Whitman: "Looked in at the Pic Office; met Walt Whitman near Fowler and Wells, walked awhile with him, then on. Passing by Greene St was beckoned in by Selina Jewell" (74).

Gunn describes his talk with Welden; Walt Whitman comes up: "Met Welden farther on, closely shaved, as has been his custom of late, and rather drunk. He began to talk of Walt Whitman and 'that nasty, beastly w___e house book of his,' and pronounced him deserving of being whipped on his bare back 'till the blood ran down!' Back to my cold bed by 11 1/2" (80).

Gunn learns that Whitman owes Parton money: "Whitman has borrowed $300 of Parton and failed to meet his note for it. The money was lent with especial understanding that it was to be refunded at a certain date – since which something like twelve days has elapsed. Walt has been written to sans response. It would appear there's reason for suspecting the great 'Kosmos' to be a great scoundrel" (152-153).

Gunn explains that Parton is going to sue Whitman for his $200: "Plenty of persons were anxious to go, so Bellew, 'Doesticks' and I stood looking on awhile, till the close, when Doesticks entered a carriage (at little Edge's solicitation,) Bellew went off for a walk, and I returned to my chamber with Parton, who had been with us for the last five minutes or so. We talked an hour away, principally of
Levison. (Parton's apprehensive Haney may propose to the widow.) Walt Whitman has called on Parton, and appears shuffling. Parton is going to sue for his $200" (159).

Gunn regrets relying on Haney's judgment of Whitman: "There's something inherently untrue all through American life and character. Parton supposed Haney likely to marry that woman – knowing, too, that Haney knows what her nature it. I was carried away by his judgment of Walt Whitman, despite my own thoughts. When Walt told him, 'on his honor', that he – the Author of 'Leaves of Grass' – had lived a perfectly chaste life, that staggered my faith. I had doubts before. Now I know that I should have held to my own judgment. By Jove, I'll do so hereafter uninfluenced by the whole crowd of them. And I'll believe no better of their intellects or natures than they deserve. I can stand on my feet as firmly as any of them. I know as much, and am as good" (162).