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Walt Whitman to the Editors of The Daily Crescent, 4 October 1848

Blessed be the fine bright sunshine! Here, after three days of cold darkness and rain, we have at last a clear warm day again; proving, that what we get of the delightful, can only be truly enjoyed after a pretty long taste of the disagreeable. Although the rain poured down plentifully enough, on Monday night, the great concert, under the direction of Mr. Strakosch,1 came off according to announcement, at the Tabarnacle. Never, in New York, was such a performance; never, such an audience. The great area was illuminated by hundreds of wax-lights, in addition to the gas. Four thousand people, the tip-top of the city, crowded themselves upstairs and down. A band of eighty instruments, each of the first class of performance, rendered some of the choicest musical productions ever composed.

The exhibition of the American Institute opened yesterday. Nobody there; it rained too hard. The articles are of the same old sort and variety. Hardly any thing new. Some of the Antiquarians hereabout are floating over a valuable MS. document, recently discovered, in Dutch, at the Hague, giving the earliest account of the New Netherlands. It has been sent hither to the New York Historical Society.

The Irish Directory,2 (Messrs. O'Connor, Emmet,3 Greeley,4 J. W. White, T. Hayes,5 and M'Keon,6) have issued another manifesto to the American people in general and the Irish in particular, on the subject of the funds in their, the Directory's hands. They talk independently and bluntly. Their motives are commendable; but the day of their cause is past. We had all better let the question go by default.

Macready7 appears to-night as Macbeth, at the Astor Place Theatre. Hamblin,8 at the Bowery, is another goodly ruin of an actor, who will come forward and exhibit the mere shell of genius.

You remember the case of Korth,9 mentioned in a former letter, arrested for an attempt to murder Mrs. Behm,10 at the corner of Johnson and Adams streets, Brooklyn. The trial came on yesterday. The case seems to be clear enough; here is Mrs. B's testimony:

"The prisoner often called at her husband's residence, and was on terms of friendship with him; on the evening of August 6, he called while she and her husband were at tea, and after some time said he would like a drink of water; her husband went to the pump, and while he was out Korth attacked her with a cane-sword and beat her with a whip until she was insensible."

The Coroner testified that Mrs. Behm had three stabs on the neck and breast, besides cuts and stabs elsewhere, Mr. B. also swore to being attacked by North on returning from the pump, and so beaten and banged as to become insensible. Korth's counsel say that the blame of the attack lies on the other side.

The new naval officer, Mr. Bogardus,11 has made a clean sweep of all the Barnburners12 in his establishment, and filled their places with Hunkers. Lawrence,13 the Collector, still sticks out. Some more changes in the head officers here and elsewhere at the North, are every way likely before a fortnight elapses.

Immense numbers of immigrants continue to pour in by the Liverpool, Havre, and Bremen packets. Two thousand arrived, one day last week. Let them come and welcome—the more the better. Let them, however, not remain in cities, but post westward forthwith, and vote themselves farms.

Some of the Protectionists and Paper Moneyists here are trying to resuscitate a little of the old malignance against R. J. Walker,14 low Tariff, and the Independent Treasury. Few pay any attention to them, however; if they provoke public notice, so as to bring on a contest, "Protection" will very likely lose the ground it already retains. Walker will stand higher in the history of these times, than any other man of the present administration: he deserves to, too.



  • 1. Maurice Strakosch (1825–1887), a native of Czechia, was a pianist, composer, and impresario. [back]
  • 2. The Irish Directory was organized in New York for the purpose of assisting revolutionary movements in Ireland that aimed for Irish independence. [back]
  • 3. Robert Emmett was part of the Treasury, overseeing the finances of the Irish Directory in New York. [back]
  • 4. Horace Greeley (1811–1872) was editor of the New York Tribune and a prominent advocate of social and political reform. Greeley generally supported the Whig Party in his early years, though he helped found the Republican Party in 1854. He ran for president as Liberal Republican in the election of 1872. For more information on Greeley, see Robert C. Williams, Horace Greeley: Champion of American Freedom (New York: New York University Press, 2006). [back]
  • 5. Little is known about Charles O'Connor, T. Hayes, and J. W. White, who were members of the Irish Directory in New York. [back]
  • 6. John McKeon, a friend of Lewis Cass (1782–1866), was the head of the Irish Directory in New York. [back]
  • 7. William Macready (1793–1873) was a British stage actor, who played Shakespearean roles, including Richard III. He performed in London, New York, and Paris. [back]
  • 8. Thomas Souness Hamblin (1800–1853) was a Shakespearean actor, businessman, and theatre manager. Under his management, New York City's Bowery Theatre became a successful venue for American working-class theatre. Hamblin occasionally booked opera and ballet events, but primarily produced melodramas, romances, farces, and circus acts that appealed to the working class Bowery B'hoy audiences of the Bowery district. In 1848, Hamblin bought the lease to the Park Theatre, which he renovated and reopened; however, the theatre was destroyed by fire a few months later. [back]
  • 9. Frederick Louis Korth, a native of Germany, came to the United States in the 1830s. He worked in several jobs, including in a chair factory and in private homes as a house-servant and porter. Korth was convicted of two counts of assault with the intent to kill John Behm (1815–1887) and his wife. Korth was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms, totalling eighteen years ("Sentence of Korth," Brooklyn Evening Star, October 27, 1848, 2; "Frederick Louis Korth," Brooklyn Evening Star, August 10, 1848, 2). [back]
  • 10. Whitman is referring to Mrs. Behm (ca. 1827?–1848) and her husband John Behm (1815–1887). According to the 1855 United States Federal Census, John was a grocer in Brooklyn, New York. [back]
  • 11. Cornelius S. Bogardus was a businessman who had previously served in the Revenue Department and as Assistant Collector for the Port of New York ("Appointment," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 2, 1848, 2). [back]
  • 12. Barnburners and Hunkers were terms used to describe opposing sides of the fracturing Democratic party in New York during the mid-nineteenth century. The Barnburners held radical anti-slavery views and were willing to destroy banks and corporations to end corruption and abuses. The Hunkers were pro-government; they favored state banks and minimized the issue of slavery. The divisions between these factions in New York reflected the national divisions that would lead to the American Civil War (1861–1865). [back]
  • 13. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
  • 14. Robert J. Walker (1801–1869) was Secretary of the Treasury; he was appointed by President James K. Polk (1795–1849). [back]
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