[F] Sanguine Poetaster/Bread Crust
In this series of sketches Lippard continued, in another vein, the critique of the local literary world that had informed his writings on Dickens’ visit to America. His object here was to make fun of a nw-forgotten but then-popular local poet, Henry B. Hirst (1813-74), here called “Henry Bread Crust.” First came a pair of “The Sanguine Poetaster” sketches, and then, extending the series, a continuation under the title “The Bread Crust Papers.” Lippard represented Hirst as a pretentious fop whose “voice half exquisite, half womanish” (F4) was characterized by an affected drawl and lisp—the “Chestnut street ‘lithp’” (F7), he called it. An insipid sentimentalist, the author of execrably silly twaddle, Bread Crust was soon joined in Lippard’s satirical series by his friend and fellow poet Thomas Dunn English (1819-1902), here denominated “Thomas Done Brown,” who is at least slightly less lost to literary history than is Hirst (English manages to have one poem, “Ben Bolt,” widely popular in its day, included in the Library of America’s anthology of nineteenth-century American poetry). Bread Crust and Done Brown compete with gooey rhetoric for the affections of one Angeline Smivers, who, however, seems distinctly less interested in poetry than in a good hearty breakfast. The object of the satire, in brief, was the deplorable popular taste for shallow sentimental poetry: its absurdity was put into drastic critical context by Lippard’s dramatic adversion (or Angeline’s) to the basic material necessities of life. Read More ...
[Readers will note that the series, as presented here, is incomplete; David Reynolds in his Twayne biography reports that there is a final April 1 installment (which would be consistent with the note at the end of the March 31 installment promising that the series would be “Concluded to-morrow”), in which the cowardly Done Brown fails to show up for the duel in Camden; but at present I do not possess a copy of this concluding episode.]