Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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YOUTH
29
Alleghany town, Oct. 18th, 1840. . . . . Stephen and I have the house to ourselves and lonely enough it is. So much so that it has induced a very pretty tortoise-shell cat to take up her boarding and lodging with us. Business is rather dull for her in this establishment, therefore she lies about the fire, taking possession of the middle of the hearth-rug; she will not be looked upon as a loafer until she gets her beautiful hair singed Notwithstanding there is no mice in the premises, she looks sleek and nice, for Stephen gives her all the little bits he is permitted to gather together for the sake of her company, to the great robbing of Emeline, a half-grown girl who, he has taken it into his head, shall never suffer herself to look at him, no matter how you fix it. He is not so much devoted to music as he was; other studies seem to be elevated in his opinion; he reads a great deal and fools about none at all.
This last sentence shows that the "Tioga Waltz" of the year before was not the extent of his musical activ­ity, but we do not know just what form his devotion to music took, nor how great was the eclipse through which it was then passing.
It must have been reassuring to his parents to note that, in spite of his "weakness" for music, he "fools about none at all." His visit at home did not last long, as he is back in Athens three weeks later. He writes from there to his brother on November 9th, 1840:
Dear Brother:
As Mr. Mitchell is going to start for Towanda to-day I thought I would write you a line concerning my studies, as he says you will not be back for more than a week.
My Philosophy, Grammar and Arithmetic not being enough to keep me going, I would ask your permission to study either Latin or Bookkeeping.
I have no place to study in the evenings as the little ones at Mr. Herrick's keep such a crying and talking that its impossible to read. There is a good fire-place in my room and if you will just say the word, I will have a fire in it at nights and learn something. When you come, don't forget my waistcoat at the tailors, there are several little articles which I need though I have no room to mention them. I must stop writing as I am very cold. Your affectionate brother,
Stephen.
The family archives do not state whether the waist­coat arrived safely or whether the young student was allowed a fire in his own room by which to study, but however that may be, he finished the year in the school







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III