In Whitman's Hand

Notebooks

About this Item

Title: a schoolmaster

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before or early in 1852

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04588

Source: Notebook LC #82 |  The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the notebooks, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: The plot described in this notebook corresponds to Whitman's novel Life and Adventures of Jack Engle: An Auto-Biography, published serially in the New York Sunday Dispatch from March 14 to April 18, 1852. Two Tribune clippings pasted onto one of the pages of this notebook also are dated March 1852. The writing in the notebook therefore probably dates to before or early in 1852. The name of the character "Covert" also appears in Whitman's story "Revenge and Requital; A Tale of a Murderer Escaped," first published in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review in 1845, although the plot of that story bears only minor resemblance to the plot of Jack Engle. Covert, a villainous lawyer in both tales, may have been based on a man from Whitman's own experience. For more about this connection and the composition and publication of Jack Engle, see Zachary Turpin, "Introduction to Walt Whitman's 'Life and Adventures of Jack Engle,'" Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 34 (2017), 225–261. Whitman also copied two excerpts of poetry in this notebook (leaf 10 recto). The first poetic quotation comes from Robert Blair's poem "The Grave" (1743). The source of the second quotation is unknown. The note on the verso of what is represented here as the last page of this notebook is upside down, suggesting that Whitman may have begun writing from one direction in this notebook, then flipped it over and started writing in the other direction. The cover of the notebook is labeled "Note Book Walt Whitman 82" in a hand that is not Whitman's.

Contributors to digital file: Natalie O'Neal, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price



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a schoolmaster ^while intoxicated, was married to a woman, by certain persons to cover their own guilt.


                  ———

Money (bills) taken from a person who was down (died) of the smallpox, carried the contagion; and those who took it died of the same dis.—


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horrible effects of the taking of mercury—the swelled tongue


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Introduce a character (pick-pocket—bad) who goes to California in haste, to escape detection and punishment for crime—After a short while they receive a letter—or read in a newspaper—an account of his being hung


                  ———

? make the pickpocket the husband of a worthy woman who has been inveigled into marriage with him.—


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☞ At a late fire in Cambridge, Mass., while the flames were consuming the lower part of a dwelling and threatening the whole building with instant destruction, Mr. Thomas G. Fay, a merchant of Boston, and boarder at the Brattle House, observed in the upper story a female and several children. Without stopping for a moment to consider the dangers of an attempt to rescue them, he rushed through the wreathing smoke, and for a brief space the greatest anxiety prevailed in the crowd for his safety. In a moment more he emerged from the burning building, bearing the children in his arms, and followed by the mother. The entire upper part of the building was in a moment after enveloped in flames. Such an act of bravery, displayed in the preservation of human life, is worthy of more than a simple newspaper notice.

                                                                                       X

A little affair occurred at Goldsboro', N. C., a few days since, which strikingly illustrates the beauties of the "Peculiar Institution." It was the sale, at auction, of a colored woman and her children. The Goldsboro' Patriot states the case as follows: "They were the children of a free negro by the name of Adam Wynne, who had purchased their mother, his wife, previous to their birth. They were consequently his slaves, and, he having become involved, they were sold for his debts." We learn from the same authority that these people "brought prices ranging from $711 to $827."—This is a great country.

Tribune March 12 1852


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Introduce Jack's friends—two or three—


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An elderly man woman comes to the office to secure Covert's services fo in behalf of hiser son, who is arrested for


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Martha, is the ward of Covert, inheriting property, so situated as to require the services of a limb-of-the-law.—(Her mother, aunt, the Old Quaker lady)

Jack, on going to Covert's house, ^one evening recognizes the like portrait of the Old Lady—it affects him to tears

[transposition mark]

is dead—and Martha lives in Covert's house, in the situation of half servant—


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Make Wigglesworth

Some remarks about the villainy of lawyers—tell the story of Covert's ^father's swindling, about the house in Johnson st—damn him


                  ———

Make Wigglesworth tell Jack a good long account of Covert and his character and villainies


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(Covert has licentious feelings toward Martha and wishes to effect a marriage with her—also for the sake of her property


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—He is divided in his libidinous feelings between Martha, and Miss [Seligny?]


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—The main hinge of the story will be Covert's determination to embezzle Martha's property—by means of withholding deeds, wills documents, &c &c—and Jack Engle, who early discovers that intention—being pervaded by a determination th to foil him—

With this view, he applies himself with zeal to study law, and watches with great sharpness—


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The story of Martha shall be is that her father ^Uncle, wealthy ^who had adopted her a fine hearted man, (but possessed of a frightfully passionate temper,)—under the influence of his passion, commits homicide—(the victim is Jack's father)—He is arrested the shock is too much for him—while in prison,—he divides his makes a will,


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dividing his property equally between Martha and the offspring of his victim—or the latter failing, it was all to go to Martha.—

The widow left Philadelphia, (where these sad events happened,) and came on to New York.—In consequence of the nature of the affair, she gradually withdrew from all her ^relations and former friends, (she was extra


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sensitive) and lived with Martha, shut out from the world and


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Introduce some scene in a religious revival meeting—


                  ———

Make a character of a ranting religious exhorter—sincere, but a great fool.

Make Wigglesworth "get religion," through Calvin Peterson


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Don't forget Seligny

(describe Tom Peterson fine young fellow

Smytthe
Pepperich Ferris


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"The cup goes round,
And none so artful as to put it by."

O, earth how coulds't thou rudely push him back when he had but just crossed thy threshold?


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Hildreth vol 1 page 42,




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