Oliver Hillhouse Prince, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, and the Birth of American Literary Realism(*).
Displaying the texts side-by-side, Jacobs showed what Hardy had done. He wrote, "It will need no acuteness of vision to see that there is something more than an accidental similarity between the description given by Mr. Hardy (in the left-hand column) and by `Timothy Crabshaw' (in the right)."(3) This is part of Jacobs's exhibit:
`Look to the right, and dress!' They were soon, by the help of the noncommissioned officers, placed in a straight line; but as every man was anxious to see how the rest stood, those on the wings pressed forward for that purpose till the whole line assumed nearly the form of a crescent.
`Why look at `em,' says the captain; `why, gentlemen, you are all a crooking in at both eends, so that you will get on to me by and by! Come, gentlemen, dress! dress!'
`Men, I dismissed ye too soon; parade, parade again I say,' he cried. `My watch is fast, I find.' There is another twenty minutes afore the worship of God commences. Now, all of you that han't fawlocks, fall in at the lower end. Eyes right, and dress!'
As every man was anxious to see how the rest stood, those at the end of the line pressed forward for that purpose, till the line assumed the form of a horse-shoe.
`Look at ye now! Why you are all a crooking in. Dress! dress!'
In the ensuing controversy, many readers came to Hardy's defense; they could not believe that such a famous writer had done anything wrong. One defended Hardy by pointing out how much the British author had improved the American original. Unfortunately, the printer had accidentally reversed Jacobs's columns (I have duplicated the mistake above), and Hardy's defender had unwittingly argued that Hardy had ruined the American original.(4) Another came to Hardy's defense, ironically, by denigrating the plagiarized passage in his book: "[T]he passage in The Trumpet Major, which bears so striking a resemblance to the one in Georgia Scenes is, after all, not sufficiently remarkable to tempt another novelist to convey it bodily."(5) Hardy himself denied any knowledge of Georgia Scenes. He did, however, admit that he was indebted to a more obscure work, C. H. Gifford's History of the Wars Occasioned by the French Revolution, which had been published in 1817. Learning this, the editor of The Critic returned to Georgia Scenes, where Longstreet had noted that "The Militia Company Drill" had first been published "about twenty years ago." Was Gifford's book this publication? Was he the author of "The Militia Company Drill"?
In fact, "The Militia Company Drill" was written by Oliver Hillhouse Prince ("Timothy Crabshaw" was Prince's pseudonym), and in the following years a number of writers pointed this out.(6) The relationship between Prince, Longstreet, and Georgia Scenes is in one respect simple: of the nineteen items in Georgia Scenes, Prince wrote one, and Longstreet wrote the rest. But this is a curious and confusing fact. Georgia Scenes is a collection of Longstreet's writing, originally published by Longstreet himself. Why did Longstreet include Prince's sketch? Imagine how strange it would seem today if John Updike, in his new collection of short stories, included a story by Joyce Carol Oates that he thought particularly fine. This strangeness may partly explain the sloppy scholarship that has grown up around Prince and Longstreet. For example, one encyclopedia of literary biography identifies Longstreet as a "humorist, jurist, and educator, who sometimes wrote over the signature `Timothy Crabshaw.'"(7) Another reference work (1974) takes this mistake to an embarrassing extreme, asserting that all of Longstreet's original Georgia Scenes were published under Prince's pseudonym.(8) On the whole, Longstreet's use of "The Militia Company Drill" has generated little recognition for Prince while causing a great deal of confusion. This is a pity. Through his influence on Longstreet, Prince played a vital part in the founding of American literary realism.
On June 6, 1807, in the small town of Washington, Georgia, Sarah Hillhouse, the state's first woman newspaper editor, published the 329th issue of her family's weekly, the Monitor. On this day, the first two of the Monitor's four pages were given over almost entirely to an item written by Sarah's nephew, twenty-four-year-old Oliver Hillhouse Prince.(9) This piece consisted of two letters, one framing the other. The framework was addressed to "the body aggregate" and was signed "Fugitas." The letter within this letter, which purported to describe the recent muster of a Georgia militia company, was addressed to Fugitas ("Dear Fugey") and was signed "Timothy Crabshaw." Removed from its frame, this narrative was an immediate success, as reprintings spread throughout the United States and then across the Atlantic.
In thinking about the place of Prince's militia narrative in American literary history, we may usefully begin by considering a better-known work that was published in the same year, William Irving, James Kirke Paulding, and Washington Irving's Salmagundi; or The Whim-whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. & Others. The Salmagundi papers, which were issued in New York on an irregular basis from January 24, 1807, to January 25, 1808, appeared in the wake of similar works in American periodicals such as Joseph Dennie's Port Folio (1801-1807), John Howard Payne's Thespian Mirror (1805-1806), and Charles Brockden Brown's Literary Magazine and American Register (1803-1807). In addition, the first issue of Salmagundi was partially a response to The Town, a New York magazine that published its only five issues in the first two weeks of 1807.(10) The most prominent British influences on Salmagundi were Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, whose Spectator papers were reissued in a best-selling, eight-volume edition in Philadelphia in 1803.(11) In the first number of the Spectator, which was originally published in London in 1711, Addison declared the periodical to have a high moral purpose: "I have often been told by my Friends, that it is Pity so many useful Discoveries which I have made, should be in the Possession of a Silent Man. For this Reason therefore, I shall publish a Sheetfull of Thoughts every Morning, for the Benefit of my Contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the Diversion or Improvement of [Great Britain], I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the secret Satisfaction of thinking that I have not Lived in vain."(12) Similarly, the authors of Salmagundi set out "to instruct the young, reform the old, correct [New York] and castigate the age...."(13)
Of course, readers purchased Salmagundi not for castigation but for entertainment, leading Irving, Paulding, and Irving to worry that "many people read our numbers, merely for their amusement, without paying any attention to the serious truths conveyed in every page." The Salmagundi authors risked only amusing their readers because they chose to convey their "truths" with humor: "It is one of our indisputable facts," they wrote, "that it is easier to laugh ten follies out of countenance than to coax, reason, or flog a man out of one" (p. 227). This principle was employed as well by Prince in his militia narrative. In the frame to that narrative, we see Prince attempting to coax, reason, and flog Georgians into recognizing a serious problem: he argues that if the rag-tag Georgia militia should ever face a well-trained army, the Georgians would either flee or be slaughtered; Georgia, therefore, had better fix this problem or else be left to rely upon "an extraordinary providence," the "justice of nations," or "the mercy of a conqueror."(14) In the militia narrative itself, however, we see Prince attempting to laugh readers out of this folly, much as Irving, Paulding, and Irving had advised. In a noteworthy coincidence--if it be a coincidence at all--in the Salmagundi of March 7, 1807, William Irving had satirized a local militia drill:
The commanding officer ordered his men to wheel and take [the pump] in flank--the army accordingly wheeled, and came full butt against it in rear exactly as they were before:--"wheel to the left!" cried the officer; they did so, and again, as before, the inveterate pump intercepted their progress. "Right about, face!" cried the officer; the men obeyed, but bungled--they faced back to back. (p. 118)
Prince's satire, which was published three months later, is similar:
`Tention the whole! To the right! wheel! Each man faced to the right about. Why gentlem[e]n! I did'nt mean for every man to stand still and turn nayturally right round; but when I told you to wheel to the right, I intended for you to wheel round to the right as it were. Please to try that again gentlemen; every right-hand man must stand fast, and only the others turn round. In a previous part of the exercise, it had, for the purpose of sizing them, been necessary to denominate ever), second person a `right-hand-man.' A very natural consequence was, that on the present occasion, those right-hand-men maintained their position and all the intermediate ones faced about as before.
Each narrative has fun with the futile efforts of an incompetent commander drilling an incompetent militia. A major difference, however, is the voice that Prince's narrator allows his subjects. Both Prince's narrator, Crabshaw, and Irving's narrator, Mustapha, consider themselves superior to the characters they describe, but Crabshaw's words serve primarily to frame the words of the militia captain, whose hopeless orders drive the narrative. Mustapha, on the other hand, does not report the words of his subjects. Beyond "wheel to the left" and "right about, face," readers hear almost no voice other than Mustapha's, as he, like the other Salmagundi narrators, would rather summarize than let another character speak. As a result, Irving's work seems more an essay or sketch in the mode of Addison and Steele, while Prince's work, filled with the speech of a common Georgian, seems more a realistic short story.
We must remember, of course, that Prince's militia narrative was not originally a discrete story but was embedded in a long-winded, two-part editorial. The story became popular because editors reprinted it without its ponderous frame and without the passages of explicit editorializing that appeared in the story itself.(15) This pruning left a work that one critic has identified as the first example of Old Southwest Humor. This distinction alone should earn Prince a footnote in every history of American literature.(16) Prince deserves more than a footnote, however, for the effect that his narrative had on one reader.
Prince and Longstreet
The early lives of Prince (1782-1837) and Longstreet (1790-1870) were much the same. In 1784, Longstreet's parents migrated to Georgia from New Jersey; in 1796, Prince's family migrated to Georgia from Connecticut. Both men were followers of Georgia governor George M. Troup's political party, and both had daughters named Virginia and Frances. Each man was, in the same order, a lawyer, a politician, and a newspaper editor. Of the careers they shared, Prince and Longstreet found their greatest successes as lawyers. Prince was so highly esteemed that the state legislature selected him to author the first digest of Georgia state law. Longstreet published Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Case of McCulloch vs. the State of Maryland (1819; now lost), and took at least one case to the Supreme Court himself.
Among their contemporaries, however, the reputations of Prince and Longstreet rested largely upon their wit.(17) Stories of Longstreet's humor have been preserved primarily by John Donald Wade in his Augustus Baldwin Longstreet: A Study of the Development of Culture in the South (1924). Fewer stories of the lesser-known Prince survive. One is retold by Virginia King Nirenstein in her chronicle of the Princes, With Kindly Voices: A Nineteenth-Century Georgia Family:
One day in Mrs. [Nicholas] Johnson's parlor a spirited discussion broke out concerning Sir Walter Scott's poetry. Prince and his friend Judge Augustin Clayton, another of the circuit's notable wits, maintained that the revered Sir Waher's poetry was doggerel which could have been written by anyone. To prove this point Prince rapidly reeled off a string of sentences, to which Judge Clayton added a postscript in the style of Scott. The subject of the simulated poetry was Brownlee [sic], the cow Colonel Johnson kept in the front yard where a green lawn naturally resulted. (p. 5)(18)
It is interesting to note Prince's apparent disdain for Scott, a figure later held in contempt by another Southern American realist, Mark Twain.(19)
For the lawyers of Prince and Longstreet's era, wit was important as much outside as inside the courtroom. Wisecracks, jokes, anecdotes, and stories were primary, sources of entertainment as the legal brethren rode their circuit and spent their nights together in taverns, inns, and makeshift hotels. Prince was admitted to the bar in 1806, one year before the publication of his militia narrative. Over the course of this year, he perhaps had opportunities to refine his storytelling skills with his fellow lawyers. Longstreet at this time was nothing but a sixteen-year-old schoolboy. There is, however, some reason to believe that he was among the first readers of Prince's narrative.
Early in life, Longstreet had not read much, but when he was fifteen, his mother had taken in a young boarder named George McDuffie, a future United States congressman, United States senator, and South Carolina governor. Under McDuffie's influence, Longstreet's reading habits turned for the better. McDuffie was a voracious reader whose habit of reading aloud at first irritated Longstreet. But as Longstreet gradually learned to enjoy McDuffie's performances, he learned to enjoy reading as well, and a sort of competition developed: "I observed that when we read the same books and papers," Longstreet recalled, "he always knew twice as much of their contents as I did. I determined to match him if possible, and I commenced reading with care, and in a measure studying what I read." Given that McDuffie "devoured every ... newspaper with greediness that he could lay his hands on," it seems certain that he and Longstreet read the Monitor, as they lived in Augusta while the Prince family paper was published in nearby Washington. The Monitor would have especially interested the politically minded young men because on January 4, 1805, it had won the contract to publish the proceedings of the Georgia state legislature.(20) To any alert reader, Prince's militia narrative, written in common language about common Georgians, would have seemed different from the things that ordinarily appeared in the newspapers. Years later, when he was explaining the intent of his own literary work, Longstreet wrote that
the aim of the author was to supply a chasm in history which has always been overlooked--the manners, customs, amusements, wit, dialect, as they appear in all grades of society to an ear and eye witness of them. But who ever tells us of the comments of the wits and the ways of the common walks of life, in their own dialect...?(21)
One answer would have been Oliver Hillhouse Prince.
In 1821, six years after his own admission to the bar, Longstreet was elected to the state legislature in Milledgeville. During Longstreet's term, Prince visited Milledgeville to see to the publication of the first edition of his Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia (1822). The two men may have first met at this time (Nirenstein, pp. 14-15, 66). If, in fact, Longstreet had missed seeing Prince's militia narrative when it debuted in 1807, it is difficult to imagine that he had also missed the many reprintings of the subsequent fifteen years. A last chance to read the work before Prince's Milledgeville visit came on January 7, 1822, when the narrative appeared under Prince's name as "Militia Muster" in the Augusta Chronicle & Georgia Gazette. In any case, whenever Prince and Longstreet did first meet, we may fairly assume that Longstreet knew of Prince not only as a fellow lawyer but also as a wit and an author.(22) Thus, when Longstreet began writing his Georgia Scenes around 1830 (p. 145), he had two sources from which to take his cues: the oral literature of the circuit riders and the written example of Prince.
On January 5, 1832, Prince became co-editor of the Milledgeville Georgia Journal. By this time, the literary seed he had planted twenty-five years earlier was showing growth in a variety of humorous, realistic narratives. One popular example of this new realism, Ham Jones's "Cousin Sally Dilliard," had appeared in Atkinson's Saturday Evening Post on August 6, 1831.(23) On February 23, 1832, the Georgia Journal reprinted Jones's sketch on its front page with this note: "The following exquisite morceau has already appeared in a neighboring paper; but we readily adopt the suggestion of a friend to treat our patrons with a republication of it. The fidelity of the copy will recommend it to many a reader, who has probably seen many originals, that might have sat for the portrait." In other words, the strength of "Cousin Sally Dilliard" was its realism. As co-editor of the Georgia Journal, Prince could have defined his place in this burgeoning literary revolution, but he appears to have devoted his energies to the paper's central concern: politics. In fact, politics was the central concern of all Georgia newspapers in 1832. The state's first literary journal--William Tappan Thompson and James McCafferty's Augusta Mirror--would not appear until 1838, the year after Prince's death.(24) For the Georgia Journal (and other Georgia newspapers of the time), fiction served as filler. Sometimes, as in the case of "Cousin Sally Dilliard," this filler could be "exquisite," but it was filler all the same.
Tradition has it that Prince wrote more fiction than just his militia story. For example, Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography (1888) recorded that "Oliver Hillhouse Prince was the author of many humorous sketches...." But in the extant files of the Monitor, there are no other humorous sketches that can be traced to Prince. In fact, nowhere in the surviving issues of the paper is there any other item that might fairly be described as a "humorous sketch." The nearest to that description are shortjokes and anecdotes that serve as filler.(25) Similarly, if Prince wrote any fiction for the Georgia Journal, it was short and unsigned. One obvious candidate for his authorship is "A Militia Training," a narrative written entirely in dialogue, which appeared on November 12, 1832. But why would Prince have bothered to write a sketch that so plainly rehashed his best-known work? More likely, he re-printed "A Militia Training" for readers-in-the-know to see a clear example of his continuing influence.(26) Of the other unsigned items in the Georgia Journal, "Free Inquiry" is among the most substantial. This is the work in its entirety:
In times of religious excitement, evening meetings are not unfrequently held, called meetings of "free inquiry." Where one of these excitements prevailed, lived Jock Pettibone and Nat Pease; they were ungodly fellows, and more apt to be excited by rum than by religion--one evening Jock being about three sheets in the wind was looking about for his usual companion to help him keep up the Spree as he called it, he strolled about, but Nat was no where to be found--at length seeing a crowd of people collected and not exactly aware of the nature of the meeting, he entered and took a seat among the rest in hopes to spy out his friend in the midst of [the] multitude. Soon Mr. Higginson the minister arose and observed--"This is a meeting where every person is free to speak; if any of you have any thing on your minds, or any inquiries to make, there is perfect liberty.["] Upon this, Jock got up and steadying himself as well as he could by the bench, began "Mr.--Higgin--son,--I--should--like--to--make--one--inquiry,--if --it--be--in--order." "Certainly, Mr. Pettibone, this is a meeting of "free inquiry," ask any question you think proper--I am very glad to perceive that you manifest an inquiring spirit." "Well--then,--since--you--are--so--good--as--to--allow--me--to--speak-- freely --I--would--just ask--you--whether--[you've] seen any thing of NAT PEASE?"(27)
"Free Inquiry" appeared on January 29, 1834. Less than two months later, in his own newspaper, Longstreet published "An Interesting Interview," a Georgia Scene that, like "Free Inquiry," relied on drunken speech for its humor. Here is an excerpt:
"Why, Nancy! what, in, the worl' has got into you! Is you drunk too? Well, 'pon, my word, and honor, I, b'lieve, every body, in this town, is, got drunk to-day. Why, Nancy! I never, did, see, you, in, that fix, before, in, all, my, live, long, born, days."(28)
While no one remembers "Free Inquiry" today, "An Interesting Interview" is lauded for its realism in dealing with alcohol and drunken speech. The praise began with Poe: "`An Interesting Interview' is [a] specimen of exquisite dramatic talent. It consists of nothing more than a fac-simile of the speech, actions, and thoughts of two drunken old men--but its air of truth is perfectly inimitable."(29) By his own account, Longstreet had aimed at such a facsimile. He wanted to preserve the lives of ordinary people for posterity:
I have often desired to see the Greeks and Romans, as they saw each other--To be present at their amusements--hear their wits and wags--enter their dwellings--see their tables--witness their paternal & maternal government--hear their children--look into their schools &c. &c. The time will come, perhaps, when the same desire will be felt to know all about us; and to gratify that desire, I am now writing. ("Letters," p. 100)
To fulfill this purpose, Longstreet realized that he ought to take his Georgia Scenes from their newspaper columns and collect them into a book, and it was, of course, Georgia Scenes that kept "An Interesting Interview" from the anonymous fate of "Free Inquiry."
On October 30, 1833, while Prince was co-editing the Georgia Journal, Longstreet published his first Georgia Scene in a different Milledgeville newspaper, the Southern Recorder. We do not know whether Longstreet first offered his sketches to Prince. If he did, it is difficult to imagine that Prince would have refused them, as he often scrambled to fill his columns with fiction of various sorts. It may be that the editors of the Southern Recorder got wind of Longstreet's work, and the Georgia Scenes were solicited rather than offered. In any event, there does not appear to have been a rift between Longstreet and Prince; in January 1834, when the first issue of Longstreet's paper, the Augusta State Rights' Sentinel, appeared, the editors of the Georgia Journal welcomed the efforts of their "old friend Judge Longstreet; a gentleman whose talents and attainments need no testimony from us. We greet him as an acquisition to the corps Editorial; and we do this with the more pleasure from thinking (if the vanity and egotism may be pardoned,) that there is some similarity in our tastes and temper, and habits, as well as politics."(30)
As an editor, Longstreet, like Prince, scrambled to fill columns with type. On one occasion, he filled space by giving Prince's militia narrative yet another reprinting--a fact that establishes beyond any doubt Longstreet's knowledge of Prince's sketch. What is positively startling, however, is Longstreet's decision to publish Prince's work as a Georgia Scene once he had Prince's permission to do so.(31) Why did Longstreet publish another man's work almost as if it were his own? The answer, in part, is that "The Militia Company Drill" (as Longstreet gave the title) fit the purpose of his literary endeavor, which was to depict ordinary life as it really was. Prince's account of a militia muster had, according to Longstreet, "[saved him] the trouble and mortification of describing the same thing in a worse style." Indeed, Longstreet found Prince's work to be even more realistic than much of his own. In his preface to Georgia Scenes, Longstreet explained that since pure realism can be "dull and insipid," he had "used some little art in order to recommend [his sketches] to the readers of [his] own times." Later, in defending the realism of these sketches, Longstreet explained that "The Militia Company Drill" was real life unembellished: "The `Wax Works' & `Fox Hunt' [two other Georgia Scenes] are nearly literally true. `The Company Drill,' is even without coloring."(32)
In fact, "The Militia Company Drill" could easily pass as a work written by Longstreet. The story is narrated by a passive outsider. Timothy Crabshaw is a traveler who bemusedly describes the chaos of a Georgia militia drill. The narrators of Longstreet's stories find themselves in similar situations. In "The Fight," Lyman Hall watches with fascination and horror as two toughs have it out. He stands as a genteel outsider, a role that he also plays in such stories as "The Horse Swap," "The Turf," and "The Gander Pulling." Longstreet's other narrator, Abraham Baldwin, plays a similar role in such stories as "The Dance" and "The Song." The three narrators--Crabshaw, Hall, and Baldwin--are united by their purpose of realistic reportage.
This goes some distance toward explaining Longstreet's publication of another man's work in Georgia Scenes. Since Prince's literary aesthetic of 1807 had become Longstreet's own, perhaps Longstreet saw nothing strange about borrowing his friend's work. Yet modern critics have increasingly seen Georgia Scenes not as a haphazard collection of sketches but as a unified work, and this unity is provided in large part by the development of Longstreet's two narrators, Baldwin and Hall. Would Longstreet not have recognized that the inclusion of a third narrator would compromise the integrity of his book? Perhaps, but this would have been a secondary concern. Longstreet's primary concern would have been preserving the slice of Georgia history presented in "The Militia Company Drill." Furthermore, by including "The Militia Company Drill" in Georgia Scenes, Longstreet may have been acknowledging his debt to Prince, and he may also have been smoothing ruffled feathers. Perhaps Prince resented Longstreet's success in Prince's area of literary innovation. Could there have been a rift after all? Looking back in 1896, another Georgian, Joel Chandler Harris, wrote that
A great deal of the humor that originated in Georgia has been printed in books. We find it in Judge Longstreet's "Georgia Scenes," in [William Tappan Thompson's] Major Jones's "Travels," in Colonel Richard Malcolm Johnston's "Stories of Georgia Life," and in other volumes that have attracted public attention. But the best of it has been lost. It originated when the lawyers were riding about on horseback or in buggies from court to court, and tradition has only preserved a small part of it.(33)
Longstreet ranks ahead of Thompson and Johnston, also purveyors of humorous realism, in part because he published first. It was Longstreet who first thought that the tales of the lawyers might be worth preserving. (As Arthur Palmer Hudson put it, Longstreet "had the wit to realize that something old in talking might look new in writing."(34)) But as we have seen, Prince beat Longstreet into print by a considerable margin. Might Prince have resented that Longstreet's achievement was eclipsing his own?
There is circumstantial evidence for this. The Georgia Journal, while it reprinted a wide variety of fiction, both American and European, never reprinted a Georgia Scene. This is extraordinary for a paper whose editors found "Cousin Sally Dilliard" to be "exquisite" and claimed to share Longstreet's "tastes and temper." Indeed, the Georgia Journal and State Rights' Sentinel often reprinted the same brief filler items. For example, the same anecdote of a young boy visiting the post office appeared in Prince's paper on August 27, 1834, and in Longstreet's paper on the following October 9. Why did this shared editorial taste not extend to the Georgia Scenes? We know that the editors of the Georgia Journal received Longstreet's paper on a regular basis, as they reprinted, among other things, no fewer than seven of the political satires that Longstreet wrote under the pseudonyms of "e. Prater" and "Bob Short." Yet the Georgia Scenes appear not even to have been mentioned in the pages of the Georgia Journal. If Prince was in fact jealous or resentful of the Georgia Scenes, this might explain how the earliest of them ended up in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder rather than the Milledgeville Georgia Journal.
If Longstreet's inclusion of "The Militia Company Drill" in Georgia Scenes was meant to give Prince his due, then the gesture, as we have seen, has been both a success and a failure. Longstreet has succeeded in bringing Prince's sketch to thousands of new readers, but Prince himself has generally failed to receive credit. Most readers have taken "The Militia Company Drill" as just another Georgia Scene, paying little attention to Longstreet's statement, which appears twice in the book, that "The Militia Company Drill" is the work of a different author. It is easy to imagine careless readers forgetting the disclaimer in the book's preface or passing over the footnote attached to Prince's sketch. It is also easy to imagine readers not taking these disclaimers seriously. Longstreet identified Prince in neither his newspaper nor his book. The differences between the headnote that preceded Prince's narrative in the Augusta Chronicle & Georgia Advertiser and the headnote that preceded it in Longstreet's own paper are instructive:
Augusta Chronicle & Georgia Advertiser January 7, 1822
The following exquisite piece of humor, was written by OLIVER H. PRINCE, Esq. of Washington, Wilkes County, in this State. It was first published in the Monitor, about 10 or 15 years ago, has since been re-printed in many of the periodical works in this Country and in England; and has even, we understand, been translated into French.--And yet, the Author has been in a great measure unknown; for it goes very hard with people living beyond the Savannah River, to believe that any thing like Mind can exist in Georgia. (p. 2)
Augusta State Rights' Sentinel May 15, 1834
For the following amusing, graphic, yet faithful description of a COMPANY DRILL in this State, I am indebted to a gentleman who has long been known as the author of it. It was taken from the life, about twenty years ago, and made its first appearance in the Washington Monitor, from which it was copied into almost every gazette in the United States. Hence it passed over to Europe, where it appeared in every language spoken on the Continent. The author has granted me permission to place it among the "Georgia Scenes"--a permission of which I gladly avail myself, because it saves me the trouble and mortification of describing the samething in a worse style. HALL. (p. 3
For Longstreet's purposes, it was important to describe Prince's sketch not merely as a "piece of humor" but as an "amusing, graphic, yet faithful description." In keeping with Longstreet's view that his Georgia Scenes were primarily history, his headnote aligns Prince's intent with his own. But why is Prince's name missing from Longstreet's headnote? When Longstreet requested permission to borrow the sketch, Prince may have asked his friend not to call him by name. It seems just as likely, however, that Longstreet simply followed the practice he had already established for his own name. In the Georgia Scenes, "Abraham Baldwin" and "Lyman Hall" were fronting for Longstreet; so, when "The Militia Company Drill" became a Georgia Scene, "Timothy Crabshaw" fronted for Prince. (Longstreet's own charade even included exchanging letters with "Baldwin" and "Hall" in the pages of his newspaper.) Thus, by signing his headnote "Hall," Longstreet doubly obscured Prince's identity. Longstreet did not deny writing the sketch; Hall did. It would be natural, then, for Longstreet's readers to assume that "Hall" was introducing yet another pseudonym for the single author of the Georgia Scenes.
When Longstreet included "The Militia Company Drill" in his book, he again disclaimed Prince's sketch, but again his disclaimer was pseudonymous: Longstreet published Georgia Scenes as "A Native Georgian," and the book's preface was signed "The Author." With so many pseudonyms about, and no real names, the book's readers may have assumed--and some may continue to assume--that Crabshaw, Hall, Baldwin, A Native Georgian, and The Author are all the same man.
In the spring of 1837, two years after the first edition of Georgia Scenes had been published, Oliver Hillhouse Prince and his wife, Mary Norman Prince, traveled north to New York and Boston, where Prince delivered to a printer the manuscript of his revised and enlarged law digest. The second edition of A Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia appeared later that year, but Prince never saw it. On October 9, as the Princes made their way home, their steamship, the Home, was caught in a storm off the North Carolina coast. Mary was washed overboard. Oliver, who had taken command of efforts to pump out the leaking vessel, went down with the ship. He could little have imagined the enduring importance of his modest contribution to American letters.
(*) I would like to thank Virginia King Nirenstein for graciously answering my questions about her own work on her great-great grandfather, Oliver Hillhouse Prince. I would also like to acknowledge the financial support of the Virginia Military Institute, which paid to have the Prince family newspaper, the Washington (Georgia) Monitor, microfilmed for my use.
(1) This is the date of the second edition of Georgia Scenes, which was published by Harper & Brothers of New York.
(2) Longstreet has been named as a founder (if not the founder) of American literary realism by critics such as John Donald Wade ("First American Realist," Atlanta Journal Magazine, June 30, 1935, pp. 6+) and James B. Meriwether ("Augustus Baldwin Longstreet: Realist and Artist," Mississippi Quarterly, 35 [Fall 1982], 351-364).
(3) Charles P. Jacobs, "Will Mr. Hardy Explain?" The Critic, January 28, 1882, pp. 25-26.
(4) See "A Card from Mr. Hardy," The Critic, July 4, 1896, p. 8.
(5) "Longstreet vs. Hardy," The Bookman: A Magazine of Literature and Life, April 1906, p. 121.
(6) See, for example, Memoirs of Judge Richard H. Clark, ed. Lollie Belle Wylie (Atlanta: Franklin Printing and Publishing Company, 1898), p. 237; W. P. Trent, Southern Writers: Selections in Prose and Verse (New York: Macmillan, 1905), p. 122; "Longstreet vs. Hardy," The Bookman, April, 1906, pp. 121-122; John Donald Wade, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet: A Study of the Development of Culture in the South (New York: Macmillan, 1924), p. 178; and Carl J. Weber, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Alfred's Country," Colophon, n.s. 1 (1936), 525-535.
(7) Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, eds., American Authors 1600-1900: A Biographical Dictionary of American Literature (New York: The H. N. Wilson Company, 1938), p. 479.
(8) Frank N. Magill, ed., Cyclopedia of World Authors (revised edition, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, Incorporated, 1974), II, 1095.
(9) See Virginia King Nirenstein, With Kindly Voices: A Nineteenth-Century Georgia Family (Macon: Tullous Books, 1984), pp. 4-5.
(10) Bruce I. Granger, introduction to Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. and Salmagundi; or the Whim-whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. & Others by Washington Irving (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977), pp. xx-xxi.
(11) Frank Luther Mott, Golden Multitudes: The Story of Best Sellers in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1947), p. 305.
(12) The Spectator, ed. Donald F. Bond (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), I, 5.
(13) Washington Irving, [William Irving, and James Kirke Paulding], Salmagundi; or The Whim-whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. & Others, ed. Bruce I. Granger and Martha Hartzog, The Complete Works of Washington Irving, ed. Richard Dilworth Rust (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977), VI, 67.
(14) The entire article appeared in two parts: [Oliver Hillhouse Prince], "For the Monitor," Washington (Georgia) Monitor, June 6, 1807, pp. 1-2, and [Prince], "For the Monitor (Concluded from Our Last)," Monitor, June 13, 1807, pp. 1-2.
(15) This editorializing is summarized in Augustus Baldwin Longstreet's Georgia Scenes Completed: A Scholarly Text, ed. David Rachels (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998), pp. 311-312.
(16) Prince has received passing notice in out-of-the-way places. Howard S. Mott writes that Prince's militia narrative "may be the first American short story classic" (Collecting Southern, Amateur Fiction of the Nineteenth Century: An Address before the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, November 7, 1951 [Charlottesville: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 1952], p. 3), and H. Prentice Miller, who discovered the original publication of Prince's story in a file of the Monitor at the University of North Carolina, names Prince's work as "[t]he earliest important example of Southern humor" ("Ante-Bellum Georgia Humor and Humorists," Emory University Quarterly, 5 [June 1949], 86).
(17) In Reminiscences of an Old Georgia Lawyer (1870; reprint, Atlanta: Cherokee Publishing Company, 1984), Garnett Andrews remarked that "the popular taste appreciates wit more than any other talent; comedy above tragedy, and laughter above thought." Prince, Andrews recalled, was "a man of infinite jest"; Longstreet, he said, was "kind-hearted and sunny" (pp. 41, 42, 68). In Stephen F. Miller's The Bench and Bar of Georgia: Memoirs and Sketches, (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1858), Philip Clayton placed Prince and Longstreet together in "a galaxy of wit that has never had its equal in any generation of lawyers that have graced the Georgia bar" (I, 173), and in The Memories of Fifty Years (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1870), W. H. Sparks remembered Prince and Longstreet as "chosen spirits of fun" (p. 482).
(18) This anecdote earlier appeared in George R. Gilmer's Sketches of Some of the First Settlers' of Upper Georgia, of the Cherokees, and the Author (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1855). Gilmer's gloss on Brownee is rather different: "[Col. Johnson] used to shirtee his fields along the public road with cow-pens, so as to make the corn which was seen in passing by exhibit a very luxuriant appearance, and so create the opinion in the lookers-on that his land was very productive. His orders to the cowboys were, that the cattle must never leave the pen in the morning until they had added to its fertility. A neighbor passing by found a boy running a cow, and crying as if his heart would break. Being a very kind man, he stopped to inquire what was the matter, and received for answer that Brownee would not do what master ordered" (p. 118). According to Gilmer, Prince and Clayton's parody of Scott involved Brownee and this "little negro cowboy." Gilmer also notes that the parody was later published in a paper edited by David Hillhouse in Columbia, South Carolina (p. 122).
(19) Years later, while Prince was co-editor of the Georgia Journal, that newspaper reprinted an item that lamented the end of Scott's Waverly series. It is impossible to know whether Prince approved of this bit of filler. See "Waverly Series Ended," Milledgeville Georgia Journal, March 8, 1832, p. 2.
(20) A. B. Longstreet, "Old Things Become New," The XIX Century, April 1870, p. 840; Nirenstein, p. 5.
(21) Quoted in O. P. Fitzgerald, Judge Longstreet: A Life Sketch (Nashville: Publishing House of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1891), p. 164.
(22) Much of the evidence connecting Prince and Longstreet is only circumstantial because few of their papers survive. As an old man during the Civil War, Longstreet watched Union soldiers burn his house with his papers as their kindling. A fair number of his letters survive, scattered in various libraries across the country. None, however, dates before 1829, probably seven years after he first met Prince. The only extant Longstreet letter that mentions Prince does so only in passing. See The Letters of Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, ed. James R. Scafidel (Diss., University of South Carolina, 1977), p. 115. A small number of Prince's papers are preserved at the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, none sheds light on his literary career or on his friendship with Longstreet. There are as well a few Prince papers among those of his son, who also was named Oliver Hillhouse Prince. These are held in the Jackson and Prince Family Papers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Of related interest are the Alexander and Hillhouse Family Papers, which also are held at Chapel Hill.
(23) Hamilton C. Jones, Ham Jones, AnteBellum Southern Humorist: An Anthology, ed. Willene Hendrick and George Hendrick (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon, 1990), p. 33.
(24) Bertram Holland Flanders, Early Georgia Magazines: Literary Periodicals to 1865 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1944), p. 30.
(25) See, for example, "The Sick Wife Cured in Revenge," Washington (Georgia) Monitor, August 2, 1806, p. 3, and "Military Anecdote," Washington (Georgia) Monitor, November 21, 1807, p. 3. Both of these items are unattributed. "Fugitas" published a number of additional editorials in the Monitor, including one other that framed a letter from "Tim Crabshaw" ("Electioneering," Washington [Georgia] Monitor, September 19, 1807, p. 2). On another occasion, there appeared a letter addressed to "Fugitas" and signed "Timothy" ("For the Monitor," Washington [Georgia] Monitor, April 1, 1809, p. 2).
(26) "A Militia Training," Georgia Journal, November 12, 1832, p. 3. In addition, the Georgia Journal reprinted an item from the Nashville Banner that recalls Prince's original militia editorial in the Monitor. "The Military System" remarks that the "farces, called `musters' ... have long been complained of as useless and ridiculous...." These meetings are occasions of "vice, riot, and disorder" ("The Military System," Georgia Journal, December 2, 1834, p. 3).
(27) "Free Inquiry," Georgia Journal, January 29, 1834, p. 2.
(28) [A. B. Longstreet], "An Interesting Interview," Augusta State Rights' Sentinel, March 17, 1834, p. 3.
(29) [Edgar Allan Poe], review of Georgia Scenes [by A. B. Longstreet], The Southern Literary Messenger, March 1836, p. 292.
(30) "Editorial Changes," Georgia Journal, January 15, 1834, p. 2.
(31) See Longstreet's prefatory note to "The Militia Company Drill" in the Augusta State Rights' Sentinel, May 15, 1834, p. 3, which is reprinted later in this essay.
(32) [A. B. Longstreet], Georgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, &c. in the First Half Century of the Republic (Augusta: Printed at the S. R. Sentinel Office, 1835), p. [iii]; "Letters," p. 99.
(33) Joel Chandler Harris, Stories of Georgia (New York: American Book Company, 1896), p. 250.
(34) Arthur Palmer Hudson, Humor of the Old Deep South (New York: Macmillan, 1936), pp. 16-17.
DAVID RACHELS Virginia Military Institute
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|Publication:||The Mississippi Quarterly|
|Date:||Sep 22, 1998|
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