Title: a schoolmaster
Creator: Walt Whitman
Date: Before 1852
Editorial note: Two Tribune clippings pasted onto one of the pages of this notebook are dated 1852, though the rest of the notebook is probably from earlier. Part of the notebook outlines a piece of early fiction. The name of one character, "Mr. Covert," 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. The piece would be revised and/or reprinted several times in various publications before ultimately appearing as "One Wicked Impulse!" in Specimen Days (1882–83). While the name "Mr. Covert" connects the notebook with "One Wicked Impulse!" there are only minor similarities between the plot-points of the two. It is thus possible that this notebook contains notes towards a different, as-yet-undiscovered piece of early fiction. 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.
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 our own digital images of the original manuscript.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.04588
Contributors to digital file: Natalie O'Neal, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price
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.—
horrible effects of the taking of mercury—the swelled tongue
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.—
☞ 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.
☞ 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
Introduce Jack's friends—two or three—
An elderly man woman comes to the office to secure Covert's services fo in behalf of hiser son, who is arrested for
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
is dead—and Martha lives in Covert's house, in the situation of half servant—
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
(Covert has licentious feelings toward Martha and wishes to effect a marriage with her—also for the sake of her property
—He is divided in his libidinous feelings between Martha, and Miss [Seligny?]
—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—
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,
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
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
Don't forget Seligny
(describe Tom Peterson fine young fellow
"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?
Hildreth vol 1 page 42,