Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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few childish efforts at composition, and had not yet begun his career as a song-writer, this period is obviously the turning-point of his life. He was fifteen years old, rest­less and dissatisfied with school, but of too energetic and original a temperament to drift aimlessly. The urge toward music and an artistic life was so strong as to prevent him from following any other course, and yet there seems to have been not a single ray of light to point out to him the way of his own salvation. Such music as he came in contact with was of so inferior a quality and so associated with idleness and dissipation as to be regarded at best only as an amiable weakness; the idea that music offered an opportunity for serious study and development, or promised a career of possible worth and dignity, probably never entered his head or anyone else's.
For a few years this period of unsuccessful striving to adjust himself to his environment continued, but by the time he had found his real vocation and had begun his career as a song-writer, the unfortunate weaknesses of his character had crystalized and developed beyond his control and he was never again able to direct or guide his destiny. The unrealized aspirations of his youth had left him only a sense of failure and of longing unfulfilled; he never really found himself and the motive power of ambition and self-respect left him, never to return. He drifted along, the victim of emotions too strong and will­power too weak to make his life effective.
He entered college1 cheerfully and hopefully enough. He wrote to William from Canonsburg, July 24th, 1841:
My dear Brother,
I arrived here on last Tuesday and found among the quantity of students at this institution several of my old acquaintances.
This is a very pretty situation where I board, as it is on an eleva­tion of about four hundred feet. We have about 230 written (en­rolled) students here at the present time and a library of about 1500 volumes.
Pa paid my tuition bill in advance as it is customary at this place. There are several other bills which I have not paid as I have not the means, such as $2 or $3 for joining one of the literary societies; as all of the students belong to them, I was requested to join one and

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